Politics Is Everything Podcast

Democracy faces a wide range of pressing challenges – from extreme partisanship and divisive politics to persistent inequities in access, voice and participation in public institutions and decision-making processes, from civic unrest to institutions that aren’t responsive to public needs. It’s not enough to just identify problems, we also have to find solutions and work collectively to address them.

Politics Is Everything is a member of the Democracy Group and hosted by Kyle Kondik, Carah Ong Whaley, and other members of the Center for Politics team.

 

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Episode Section

Ep. 26: Is Ranked Choice Voting a Cure for What Ails Politics? 

Are ranked choice voting and multi-member districts a cure for the hyperpartisanship and partisan extremism plaguing politics? In this episode, we talk with Rob Richie, who has been the leader of FairVote since co-founding it in 1992. Richie shares evidence for how ranked choice voting is increasing representation and opportunities for new voices and new players in politics in places where it has been adopted. Mary Peltola, who is the first Alaska native to ever serve in Congress, is one such example. 

 

As a result of ballot Measure 26-228 passing in the 2022 election with 58% of voters approving, Portland is set to become the largest city in the United States to use both ranked choice voting and multi-member City Council districts, a combination known as proportional representation that political scientists agree is a “gold standard” of democratic systems. We also talk with Damon Motz-Story who was part of grassroots efforts to adopt the reforms in Portand. 

 

Links in this episode 

FairVote  

Portland Charter Review Commission  

RCVIS 

Ep. 25: Looking Back on 2022 Elections & Looking Ahead to 2024 Elections

2022 was a great year for incumbents and a lot of things did matter – candidate quality, redistricting, reproductive rights and democracy. In this episode, Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Miles Coleman, Associate Editor, assess the 2022 election and why Republicans didn’t do as well as expected in an election that historically pointed to their advantage. They also discuss what divided government but narrow majorities mean for governance, and look ahead to the Georgia runoff and to 2024 elections.  

Links in this episode:  

Sabato’s Crystal Ball  

Ep. 24: This is a war on democracy and democratic principles.

“This is a war on democracy and democratic principles,” Dr. Yuna Potomkina, Advisor to Ukraine Minister of Defense tells us.  Armed conflict has been raging in Ukraine since early 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. On February 24, 2022, during a last-ditch UN Security Council effort to dissuade Russia from attacking Ukraine, Vladimir Putin announced the beginning of a full-scale land, sea, and air invasion of Ukraine targeting Ukrainian military assets and cities across the country. Since then, nearly 8 million Ukrainians have been forcibly displaced. An unknown number of Ukrainian children have been forcibly separated and deported to Russia, on top of other war crimes that will cause generational trauma. 

Joining Dr. Potomkina in this episode is Sabina Iliasova, Project Coordinator at Crimea SOS, Liubov Rakovytsia, Chief Operating Officer at Donetsk Institute of Information, and our interpreter is Peter Voitsekhovsky. 

“Ukraine’s success will tell the rest of the world that even a nonnuclear country can come out as a winner against a nuclear state that violated its international commitments and can continue as nuclear free and peaceful,” says Liubov Rakovytsia.   

Our visitors said two of the most important things Americans can do are to keep Ukraine in the public discourse and to send a message of support directly to the people of Ukraine. We have created a form to fill out and will deliver messages to them. 

Ep. 23: Wave Watch: Elections 2022

The Senate is coming down to a jump ball situation. Candidates need to avoid a bad toss, and can’t miss a foul or violation. Sabato’s Crystal Ball is still projecting a Republican gain in the House in the high teens or low 20s. 

 

In this episode, we share our live discussion initially held on Twitter Spaces with resident experts Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball and Miles Coleman, Associate Editor. We talk about our latest projections, what to watch, and the state of play in key Senate, House and Gubernatorial races in the final days of Election 2022. 

 

Links in this episode: 

Center for Politics on Twitter

Sabato’s Crystal Ball 

Secretary of State and Attorney General: What to Watch for Next Week in Key Statewide Contests

Ep. 22: A Pumpkin Year for Democrats?  

Kyle Kondik discusses changes in Sabato’s Crystal Ball ratings to favor Republicans and he predicts the GOP will take control of the House of Representatives following the 2022 midterm elections. The Crystal Ball says the Senate remains a toss-up. We also talk about how the political environment matters and what to watch in the final week leading up to Election Day 2022. 

Ep. 21: ‘Democracy hangs there by a thread.’ ft. Clint Hill & Lisa McCubbin Hill 

“Democracy hangs there by a thread really,” Clint Hill says on this episode of Politics Is Everything. “It hangs there by the will of the people. Without the agreement of the people to live by those circumstances, it will not exist. When it has been jeopardized by individuals, or groups or power mongers, it’s very difficult to watch if you’re one of those like myself who accepts the wonders of democracy. Democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people. And it is fragile. It can go either way. We must be careful.” 

 

Clint Hill will forever be remembered as the courageous Secret Service Agent who leapt onto the back of the presidential limousine in the midst of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, on November 22, 1963. For his actions that day, Hill received the nation’s highest civilian award for bravery. His primary responsibility was the protection of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. “I ended up with the best assignment in the secret service,” Hill tells us.  

Lisa McCubbin Hill, an award-winning journalist who has been a television news anchor and reporter for NBC, ABC, and CBS, also joins the conversation to discuss their new book My Travels with Mrs. Kennedy

Ep. 20: ‘Disagreement is healthy.’ ft. Dr. David Ramadan 

“Partisanship has become a problem on a personal level,” says Dr. David Ramadan, a Republican who served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2012 to 2016 in “one of the most Democratic districts in the entire Commonwealth.” Dr. Ramadan discusses ways to reduce extremism in both parties.  

Dr. Ramadan is the Vice President of an innovative EdTech leader, Noodle, the world’s fastest-growing online and lifelong knowledge network of universities, corporations, and learners. He is also an adjunct professor at George Mason University (his alma mater) and is a 2022-23 scholar at the Center for Politics.  

Ep. 19: ‘The Only Way Anything Gets Better Is if You Lean In’ ft. Margaret Brennan 

Margaret Brennan, moderator of “Face The Nation” on CBS and the network’s chief foreign affairs correspondent based in Washington, D.C. joins us to discuss the crisis in confidence in the media and political institutions, and the importance of leaning in to fix the challenges facing our democracy and society. Brennan says we need to be paying more attention to what is happening around the world as “We are literally seeing the foundations of the global order shaken.”  

Links in this episode:  

Face the Nation 

Ep. 18: How many seats will Republicans end up with in the House of Representatives?

In this episode, Larry Sabato, Director of the Center for Politics, and Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor of the Crystal Ball, place the 2022 election in historical context, discuss which races are the hardest to predict and address the state of play as we head into the final three weeks of what is slated to be the most expensive election on record.  

Links in this episode: 

Sabato’s Crystal Ball  

 

Ep. 17: What’s Happening with Four Weeks Until Election Day 2022?

It’s just four weeks until the last day to vote, a.k.a. Election Day 2022. What’s happening that may be affecting the electoral environment now that people are paying closer attention to the elections? Kyle Kondik and Carah Ong Whaley discuss ads, the prospect for women candidates, and ballot measures, and they answer listener questions.  

Links in this episode:  

Sabato’s Crystal Ball 

Ep. 16: Can we regain the ability to come back together after elections? 

“Everything has changed,” says CNN political contributor and Center for Politics scholar Paul Begala about campaigns and elections since he was the senior strategist for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign. “Partisanship is now part of our identity and social media has really put jet fuel behind all the fissures in our society…Elections have always been about dividing. We’re losing the ability to come back together afterward.” 

We talk with Mr. Begala about the changing nature of political campaigns, the 2022 elections, political organizing, Texas politics, the Democratic Party and more. 

Links in this episode:  

Ep. 15: “What an Injustice’ ft. Senator Tim Kaine 

Senator Tim Kaine joined the Center for Politics on September 23, 2022 to honor law enforcement who defended the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 for the first annual Defender of Democracy Awards. The J6 insurrection interrupted the proceedings of the House and Senate as they met to fulfill their Constitutionally prescribed duty to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election and forced members to evacuate to safe locations, including Senator Kaine.  

 

Senator Kaine recalled his reaction on January 6 as he was hunkered down in the Capitol with other Senators and staff and seeing Virginia State Troopers arrive on the scene, “The last time there was domestic insurrection against the government of the United States, Virginia was leading it. Now we’re in a domestic insurrection that’s being led by the commander-in-chief of the United States, and Virginia is coming to the rescue of the union.” Senator Kaine also noted that Charlottesville and January 6 are connected in so many ways as both were: “motivated by a fear of replacement, amplified by disinformation, and were an attack on democracy.”

 

Senator Kaine has helped craft bipartisan legislation to honor the public service of police officers, firefighters, and emergency responders by supporting the families of public safety officers lost to trauma-linked suicides, including families of Officers Jeffrey Smith and Howard Liebengood who were honored by the Center for Politics as Defenders of Democracy.  

Ep. 14: Outside Spending, Rating Changes & Ads…Oh My!  

The cost of elections is on the rise. Adjusted for inflation, the 2022 congressional elections are set to cost $9.3 billion dollars, compared to $6.7 billion in 2018, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. And the average cost to win a seat has doubled since 2004. In this episode Kyle Kondik shares his outside spending analysis, where outside spending is targeted and how outside spending is influencing his assessment of races. Kyle and Miles Coleman also discuss updated Sabato’s Crystal Ball House and Gubernatorial ratings and what political ads tell us about some key races. 

Links in this Episode: 

 

Ep. 13: Hello, 2022. 1978 and 1982 are calling.  

Sabato’s Crystal Ball has been tracking how 2022 is different from previous midterm elections years when the party that holds the White House is often punished. The 2022 midterm elections features both an unpopular president and there are also indications that the unpopular president’s party won’t be strongly punished. In this episode, Kyle Kondik discusses how echoes of the 1978 and 1982 midterm elections may be reverberating in 2022.  

 

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Ep. 12: ‘I was just simply doing my job.’ Ft. Sergeant Aquilino Gonell

On Friday, September 23, the Center for Politics honored and recognized all of the police officers, state troopers, national guard, firefighters, and emergency responders who protected members of the U.S. Congress, their staff, journalists and other public servants at the Capitol on January 6, 2021 as the legislative branch of America’s democracy carried out the Constitutionally prescribed certification of the results of the 2020 presidential election.  

In this episode, we talk with one of the recipients of the award, U.S. Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell. Sergeant Gonell served in Iraq with the U.S. Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Even with the threat of bomb-filled roads, he volunteered to conduct supply missions for U.S. and allied forces and local Iraqi schools. On January 6, 2021 while on American soil, he said he was more afraid of the violence that took place at the Capitol than he ever felt while serving in Iraq. On the west side of the Capitol, he spent hours trying to stop the wave of assailants from entering the building. He was hit with an American flag pole and a bat, and at one point fell to the ground and was dragged by a group that beat and insulted him.  

“I had to work for my citizenship. I had to earn my citizenship. Having so many people who were born in this country attacking the very same thing I swore an oath to protect and attacking the place I call home, that is what bothers me so much,” Sergeant Gonell tells us. “I bought into the American system, into American values. The things we hear when we live overseas – that America is the land of opportunity, that everyone is treated equal, that no one is above the law. And all this was tested on January 6 and onward… Without what we did, there would have been a lot of people who died. It would have been a massacre. When they were trying to get into the Capitol, they were telling us that they were there to hurt people. They told me that they were going to execute anyone in there that deserves it. Some of them yelled at me that I wasn’t an American…but, what is more American than protecting the Capitol?”  

Links in this episode:  

Ep. 11: Why Is the U.S. Constitution in Jeopardy

Activists have been campaigning behind the scenes for years now to change the U.S. Constitution to limit the federal government, with implications for education, health care and the environment. In this episode, we talk with former Senator Russ Feingold, President of the American Constitution Society, and Peter Prindiville, a non-resident fellow at the Stanford Constitutional Law Center about their new book, The Constitution in Jeopardy

Feingold and Prindiville trace the origins and developments of Article V of the U.S. Constitution and its provision and the ways in which it embodies an underappreciated tension that the Constitution both reflected and embedded between institutionalist theories of democracy and governance and more radical grassroots theories of resistance and change. They caution that a Constitutional Convention could run away and fundamentally alter our nation’s laws and civic life.  

Links in this episode:  

Ep. 10: What Is the Role of the News Media in this Critical Moment for American Democracy?

Robert Costa, chief election and campaign correspondent for CBS News and a scholar at the Center for Politics this academic year, shares his approach to covering campaigns, elections and politics to help the public make sense of the complex issues facing the nation. “It can become a blizzard that’s hard to follow,” says Costa, “You have to report deeply and you want to break news…Unless it’s breaking ground on the biggest players, it’s important, but not THE story.” 

Links in this episode: 

Ep. 9: Are Republican Chances for the Midterm Underrated?

There’s been some mixed electoral indicators – including the recent rise in President Biden’s job approval rating and Democrats doing better in the generic ballot – that are making the 2022 elections more challenging to analyze. Henry Olsen, Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and Washington Post columnist joins us to discuss why the Republicans are now being underrated, including through persistent and unaddressed biases in survey research, and what that means for the 2022 elections. “We should be very careful when we’re looking at state-level polling,” says Olsen. 

 

Links in this episode:  

Ep. 8: House Ratings: ‘What the Hell’s Going On Out Here?

Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the Center for Politics, talks about redistricting, the special election in Alaska and new ratings for House of Representative seats.  

Links in this episode:  

Ep. 7: Where Have Trump’s Endorsements Mattered and Why? ft. Leah Askarinam

In August, Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) became the seventh House Republican to fall to a Donald Trump-backed challenger since 2018. Rep. Cheney has taken a prominent role in calling for accountability for the January 6, 2021 insurrection and calling out false election narratives. In this episode, we talk with Leah Askarinam, senior editor at Grid News, about the extent to which and where have Mr. Trump’s endorsements mattered in the 2022 election and why. “Trump undoubtedly is the most important endorser in the Republican Party, but even that has its limits,” says Askarinam.  Askarinam also discusses the role of candidate quality, the impact of the Dobbs decision, the economy and other issues and why this might not be a typical midterm election year.  

Before joining Grid, Leah was co-author of the On Politics newsletter for the New York Times and editor in chief of National Journal’s Hotline. 

 

Links in this episode:  

Ep. 6: How Has the Political Environment Changed & What Does It Portend for Senate Races?

In Sabato’s Crystal Ball this week, Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman write that Democrats are hoping to make the 2022 election more of a choice than a referendum and that they are benefiting from some damaged Republican candidates in several key races as well as the emergence of abortion as a key issue in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. In this episode, they discuss how the political environment has changed and what it portends for Senate races.  

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Ep. 5: What would American democracy look like if everyone participated? 

Americans turned out to vote in record numbers in the 2020 presidential election and turnout has been on the rise in other recent elections. However, voter turnout in the United States still lags behind other countries. In this episode, we discuss 100% Democracy:  The Case for Universal Voting with co-authors Miles Rapoport, executive director of 100% Democracy: An Initiative for Universal Voting and the Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School, and E.J. Dionne, Jr. senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, university professor at Georgetown University, and visiting professor at Harvard University.  

Universal voting is in effect in 26 democratic countries in Europe, Latin America, Asia. Most notably, Australia adopted nationwide mandatory voting almost 100 years ago, in 1924. The participation rate immediately jumped from 60% to 90% and has stayed there in almost every election since.  

Rapoport and Dionne make the case that universal civic-duty voting would make the voting electorate more fully representative of the universe of American citizens and that campaigns would significantly improve, since candidates and parties would have to appeal to all voters. “When the electorate is fully reflective of the population as a whole, the responsiveness of government is likely to increase,” Rapoport says during our conversation. Instead of the “enrage to engage” that comes with great cost to our democracy, universal voting “would almost certainly produce a less ideological electorate,” says Dionne. The implementation of universal voting could also significantly improve civic culture in the United States.  

Links in this Episode:  

Ep. 4: Is Ticket Splitting Still Alive?

In the lead up to the 2020 election, the Pew Research Center asked voters whether they would split their ticket, that is to select a Republican for one office and a Democrat for another. Just 4% of registered voters said they would do so. Less than four percent of members of the House of Representatives (16 of 435) represent districts that voted for the opposing party’s presidential nominee in 2020. At the state level, 90 percent of state Senate and state House districts around the country voted for the same party for president as they did for the legislature. In 2022, six states – Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma and South Carolina – will offer voters the opportunity to choose a party’s entire slate of candidates with just a single ballot mark in general elections that applies to all partisan offices on the ticket, including federal, state and local races. 

 

There has been a precipitous decline in voters who split their ballots as the political parties have sorted ideologically and sharpened their differences over issues and policies. Despite this trend, J. Miles Coleman discusses which states that have elections in 2022 for senate and governor might see split outcomes and why.


Read Miles’ full analysis on Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

Ep. 3: Can We Fix the Rage Machine? 

Tim Miller is an MSNBC analyst, writer-at-large at The Bulwark, and the host of Not My Party” on Snapchat. Tim was communications director for Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign and spokesman for the Republican National Committee during Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign. He has since left the GOP and become one of the leaders of the “Never Trump” movement. He is author of Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell 

that aims to explain why Washington DC politicos who knew better went along with Trump and he joins us on Politics is Everything to discuss his book and what we can do to fix the rage machine he helped to create.  

Ep. 2: What’s at Stake in Gubernatorial Elections? 

The president’s party has lost governorships in 16 of the 19 midterm elections since World War II. In this episode, Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball discusses the most competitive gubernatorial races in 2022. He shares how a variety of factors – including presidential approval, incumbency, the state of economy and other issues, the year in which gubernatorial elections are held – converge to shape the outcome of gubernatorial elections. 

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Ep. 1: Does political experience matter?

The difference in experience among Senate candidates is one of the story lines Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, is following in the 2022 midterm elections. As a group, Republican Senate (and gubernatorial) candidates have less experience running for office and winning general elections than do Democratic candidates. How will experience and candidate quality impact election outcomes?

Also in this episode, Ahmed, a student who participated in the Center’s Global Perspectives in Democracy Program, shares about his experience in the United States this summer and his views on democracy in Iraq.

Links in this episode: