It’s no secret that the 2016 Presidential Election has been a daunting, tiring experience to follow. In the nearly year and a half since election coverage began we’ve seen our election play out like a horrible reality show–one that nobody likes but can’t look away from. Sadly, our audience isn’t limited to the 320 million people living in the United States, but billions around the world.
With the campaigns between Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump and Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton as contentious as they come, it can be hard for the average American to sort out the lies from fact. Let’s be real, this election has been more dramatic than lunchtime in middle school. With the campaigns so engrossed in ~drama~, the real issues and rhetoric have gotten lost in soundbite lunacy. With less than a month left in the election, it’s more important than ever to learn the facts before we get out and vote.
Listening to podcasts is my favorite way to sift through everything I’m hearing about the election. I listen on my way to and from work, while walking the dog, and anytime I have a few spare minutes.
Here are a few podcasts to help get you through this crazy election:
FiveThirtyEight, the brainchild of statistician and writer Nate Silver, is a website dedicated to breaking down the numbers behind today’s biggest stories. The FiveThirtyEight Elections podcast, hosted by Jody Avirgan, FiveThirtyEight senior political writer Clare Malone, senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten, and Silver, delves into political news and statistics and what the numbers really mean. What makes this podcast really worthwhile is that Silver and the gang analyze the how scandals and breaking news really impacts polls. If you’re interested in how the polls actually figure into the election outcomes, check it out, ASAP.
Keepin’ It 1600
Full disclosure, the guys of Keepin’ it 1600 are unapologetically liberal. Former Obama Administration Director of Speechwriter Jon Favreau and former Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer came out of political retirement for Bill Simmon’s The Ringer and together are helping us understand what campaign rhetoric means in regular terms. The podcast proved so popular that the once a week podcast is now twice a week with Favreau and Pfeiffer hosting episodes on Thursdays and Favreau hosting episodes on Mondays with co-hosts and former Obama staffers, speechwriter Jon Lovett and national security spokesman Tommy Vietor. Together the four sift through political events from an insider’s perspective, talking through strategies that work, don’t work, and what policies really mean. Vietor’s explanation on the Clinton email scandal and how classification actually works, remains the best and easiest explanation to follow. The hosts are often joined by democratic and republican staffers and members of the media, who talk through perspectives on both sides.
Slate’s Political Gabfest
Like the previous two podcasts on the list, Political Gabfest also features a panel of hosts. Slate writer David Plotz, New York Times Magazine writer and law expert Emily Bazelon, and John Dickerson of CBS’s Face the Nation come together to discuss the weekly happenings in politics. This podcast is engaging because each host brings something different to the table: Plotz acts as the moderator leading each discussion, Bazelon is the go-to for legal questions and the law, and Dickerson is the Washington politics and campaign expert. With their diverse backgrounds, the three often discuss politics from angles not covered by others and use their backgrounds to inform listeners on how the trending topics will impact the election and history.
This podcast also features John Dickerson from Slate’s Political Gabfest and CBS’s Face the Nation. This podcast is unlike any of the others on this list as it is mostly historical. Whistlestop delves into some of the biggest campaign moments in history, from Edmund Muskie’s campaign-ending cry to Barry Goldwater’s contested convention to the infamous Howard “Dean Scream.” Dickerson, an incredible storyteller, highlights each campaign moment and its place in history. Additionally, Dickerson often draws parallels between current campaign moments and the historical moment at the center of the episode. Dickerson is masterful at explaining intricate and complicated moments in the simplest terms. Every person to ever take a history class probably had George Santayana quoted to them, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Dickerson brings political history to the present, which is incredibly important and not done enough.
The Axe Files
Obama Campaign Manager and senior strategist David Axelrod is host of the aptly titled podcast, which features interviews from some of the biggest political faces on either side of the aisle. One of the biggest figures in the Obama administration, Axelrod is able to come to face with the likes of Bush deputy chief of staff Karl Rove and Libertarian candidate for president Gary Johnson, fresh off his Aleppo and foreign leader gaffes. Axelrod is an engaging interviewer and is able to get real answers from his interviewees, eliminating the often exhausting rehearsed answer.
These are just five of a million political podcasts out there. The five are all podcasts I listen to every week and use as a supplement to the news I’m reading and watching. Sometimes, when I hear something that is especially frustrating or just want to talk about an issue, I’ll listen to one of them just to feel like I’m in a conversation, despite not being inside the podcast. Check out any one of the five I listed above or find one I forgot!
We’re less than a month from the election! Voting is one of the most important civil responsibilities. Get educated and GO VOTE on November 8th!