Podcasting the US midterm elections

15 September 2010

Written by: Meghan Lodwick

Midterm season is upon us. On 2 November  Americans will head to the polls in what is expected to be a reality check for the embattled Obama administration.  All 435 House of Representatives seats are up for grabs, along with 37 of the 100 Senate seats.

Although most people in Australia are thoroughly sick of elections and politics.  The politically inclined among us will find the midterm election fascinating for a range of reasons:

  1. It will provide an indication of just how annoyed Americans are with their first term President and how much work he has ahead of him before 2012.
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  3. Most polls indicate that the Republicans stand a chance of taking either the House or Senate, if not both.
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  5. If Tea Party endorsed candidates perform strongly, it provides even more momentum for Sarah Palin’s push for the Republican nomination.  Setting up a fascinating 2012 Presidential election.
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Historically, incumbents don’t perform well in midterm elections.  Since 1954, only Bill Clinton in 1998 and George W Bush in 2002 have managed to avoid midterm losses in the House and Senate.

Republicans enjoy healthy leads in most polls, the most recent a 49-40 per cent result in a NBC – Wall Street Journal poll.  Democratic pollster Peter Hart commented ‘we all know that there is a hurricane coming for the Democrats.  We just don’t know if it will be a Category 4 or a Category 5.’

If (like me) you like to keep up with what’s going on politics wise in the US of A, but due to work or study don’t have the time to trawl through the New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post or Los Angeles Times websites for updates – then the best way to keep in touch Down Under is arguably via podcast.  Podcasts provide the ability to cram a few hours worth of reading into 40 minutes of listening.

If this sounds like your kind of thing, then the following is a list of podcasts that you might find useful:

KCRW’s Left, Right and Centre – gives a really good coverage of the week’s issues with a range of guests from the Democrat, Republican and Independent base.  Ariana Huffington is a regular. 

NPR’s It’s All Politics Podcast – is the best of the NRP podcast fleet.  In the past few weeks the two hosts have given a great analysis of primaries and races likely to be most important in November.

Slate’s Political Gabfest – often feels like a chat amongst friends.  At times it can suffer from three left and centre regulars for balance, but does manage to cover a great range of issues given the 40 minute allotment each week (most podcasts stick to 20 minutes).

NY Times Political Points – provides Times staff with a little more freedom than their weekly or daily column.  The passion and great knowledge of the writers comes across as they highlight the most important issues and events of the week.

Special mention also goes to Digesting Politics Podcast and Inside Washington with Gordon Peterson, although it is one of those podcasts which annoyingly insists on video, meaning you can’t Tweet or Facebook on your iPhone while listening.

Sean Ross is an emerging journalist. This was originally published at his blog Everyone else has a blog.