16 Podcasts to Help You Make Sense of the 2016 Elections


For the next 15 months or so, we’ll all be inundated with news and chatter surrounding the 2016 presidential race. Whether you’re hungry for in-depth analysis or just want to hear about the most buzzworthy stories, there’s probably a podcast to suit your needs.

This week I share a few shows that tackle politics from all angles (preferably with little to no screaming). For other podcast recs, visit the archive. Feel free to share suggestions via the comments or Twitter.


Popular, insightful podcasts about politics 

Slate’s Political Gabfest
If I want to hear intelligent, insider-y political discussions, this is where I look first. The hosts are excitable but civil, making for episodes that enlighten and rarely bore. 

Common Sense with Dan Carlin
Podcast superstar Carlin (Hardcore History) specializes in digging below the surface. Unlike many other hosts, he treats all political viewpoints with equal scrutiny. 

The Young Turks
This bold and lively show airs weekdays and is available as audio or video. Hosts are often drawn to provocative political news, but they throw in pop culture stories from time to time, too. (Note: The language can get pretty salty, as I discovered while listening in the car with my toddler.)

The Majority Report with Sam Seder
Described as “American politics for the non-brain dead or knuckle draggers,” Seder’s show features an array of political analysts, experts, and opinionated listeners. Those who prefer to live in real time and/or participate can listen live at majority.fm

Ken Rudin’s Political Junkie
Rudin, best known for hosting the popular “Political Junkie” segment on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, now runs his own site and show. His passion shines through, and he nabs interesting guests, like GOP strategist Roger Stone (who offered insight on what makes Donald Trump tick, for better or worse). 


Podcasts featuring recent headlines and timely, lively debates 

The Ticket 2016
Radio station KUT partners with the Texas Tribune for this weekly show that follows national political campaigns with a dash of Texas flavor.

KCRW’s Left, Right & Center
Here’s another fine show from the station, in which experts from both ends of the political spectrum dissect the latest headlines. 

This podcast isn’t as concerned with sharing scoops as it is with telling a solid, engaging story. Episodes have addressed the Supreme Court, Iran, and … the intersection of politics and bourbon. 


Political shows from popular publications

Politico: The Scrum
This show is a good destination for political interviews and insider chatter. Last week’s ep addressed “Trump fatigue,” and a recent interview was dubbed “50 Shades of Barney Frank.” 

The Federalist Radio Hour
Hosted by TheFederalist.com publisher Ben Domenech, this show runs Monday through Friday. It excels in explaining big topics—a recent episode broke down the Hillary Clinton email story—and highlights its reporters’ latest pieces. 

The Huffington Post: So That Happened
Hosts of this weekly show promise “an alternative to the Sunday morning shows they’ve stopped watching,” with an emphasis on water-cooler topics and recognizable political figures (like senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders).

New Yorker: The Political Scene
Hosted by New Yorker executive editor Dorothy Wickenden, this show specializes in smart, taut discussions about the political landscape. Episodes usually run about 15-20 minutes. 


Political podcasts with unique angles 

Real Time with Bill Maher
Don’t have HBO? You can still hear Maher’s show each week as a podcast, along with “Overtime” interviews and bonus episodes. 

We the People
Produced by the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, this weekly show digs into constitutional issues with the help of high-profile politicians and experts. 

The Pollsters
This show is all about the numbers. Each week, hosts Margie Omero (a Democrat) and Kristen Soltis Anderson (a Republican) break down the latest data and polls alongside special guests. 

Slate’s Whistlestop
If the current presidential race sounds wacky, just wait until you hear some of the stories on this podcast, which highlights great and not-so-great moments in presidential campaign history.