Last updated on September 9, 2020
Now that we’re less than 60 days until the Election, politics is in full gear for the fall. Since 2015 I’ve been on a steady (and probably unhealthy) increase of my political podcast consumption. As someone who is fiscally conservative, socially moderate, a detester of Donald Trump, I’ve tried to keep my perspective as open as possible, with a wide array of podcasts across the political spectrum.
I wanted to share a list of the political podcasts I listen to, in hopes that if you’re looking for something new to challenge and reinforce your views. If you have any that you really enjoy, please let me know! I’m always up for listening to a new podcast (currently I subscribe to 148 of them!
Note: The images below are my screenshots from PocketCasts, which is one of the best podcast players out there. It’s available for both iOS and Android, and if you pay for the premium tier you can get access to Windows and web apps.
My Shortlist – start here for the most even-handed analysis
Politics! Politics! Politics!
If you’re looking for the most even-handed, independent analysis of the current political spectrum, Justin Robert Young’s Politics! Politics! Politics! is the best place to start! JuRY goes through the latest news and campaign developments, then has an in-depth interview that focuses in on the “How” of politics. It’s very informative and entertaining. I can’t recommend it enough. In fact, it’s one of the few podcasts that I contribute through Patreon to get extra shows.
The Political Orphanage
Andrew Heaton is an extremely funny comedian, but also one of the most pragmatic and level-headed thinkers I’ve heard. If you’re completely sick of partisanship and using issues as a club to hit each other, crazy enough to have problem-solving discussions, this is the best podcast for that. I’ve adopted the “Political Orphan” as a moniker for where I stand politically today, not feeling like either party currently represents my values. If you feel this way this podcast is for you.
If you’re looking to break down some of the bigger developments and understand their impact against the race, the twice-weekly FiveThirtyEight podcast does that perfectly. The analysts work really hard to detach themselves from the partisan stances. They do spend a lot of times talking about polls and the horse-race of the election, rather than the political stances on the issues.
Discussion From Both Sides
Left, Right & Center
This podcast features three panelists from – you guessed it – the left, right, and center where they discuss the major issues of the week. It clocks in under an hour each week, and they typically cover three topics, one of them featuring an interview with an expert. They’ve been rotating the panelists every few months, which has been a welcome change.
Hacks on Tap
David Axelrod was a longtime Obama Advisor and played a pivotal part of his campaigns. Mike Murphy is a Republican Political Operative who is very anti-Trump. They get together 1-2x per week to talk through campaign developments, strategy, but definitely with a bias against the Trump campaign. I find myself more personally aligned with Mike Murphy politically, which is one of the many reasons I enjoy this podcast.
Listen to Sensible Conservatives
The Dispatch Podcast
The Dispatch is a relatively new conservative-slanted news site. Most of their writers are not fans of Trump but are principled conservatives. They offer sophisticated insight on the current political landscape with a Wednesday round-table discussion, then on Fridays two of the hosts bring on a guest for an interview. I’ve become a big fan of all of the four regulars on the show. If you need to ration your conservative viewpoint, this show would be a great one to consume.
The Editors – National Review
If you’re not familiar with National Review, it’s a conservative magazine that’s been around for encodes. The Editors is their flagship podcast that consists very insightful conservative commentary. They’re not rooting for Trump, necessarily, but do appreciate many of the policies that come from a Republican administration. They do a great job articulating the conservative viewpoint. Their podcast comes out twice per week.
Two of the hosts from The Dispatch Podcast, Sarah Isgur and David French, host a legally-focused podcast. When Supreme Court decisions came down they were on top of covering all of them, and do typically try to cover any major legal issues that stem from today’s politics. It gets a little deep in the weeds in terms of law, but have a great chemistry and keep it entertaining.
The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg
Jonah is an incredibly thoughtful and articulate conservative writer, and his thrice-weekly podcasts feature some deep-dives into some of the major political developments and policy issues. If you’re looking for the most articulate deconstruction of a conservative argument, The Remnant is one of the best shows out there.
What the Left Thinks
I’m going to just put it out there – I don’t have the best list of Liberal podcasts. I’m well aware of Pod Save America and listened to them back in 2016 when they were Keepin’ It 1600 at The Ringer, but I was put off by their smugness that I ultimately gave up. I do know a lot on the left like that network. I do subscribe to Vox’s The Weeds and will listen to it if the topic interests me, but I’ve found the hosts off-putting, in that they’ve reached their viewpoints due to their intelligence, implying a lack on your part for not reaching the same viewpoints.
Slate’s Political Gabfest
I enjoy The Political Gabfest for two main reasons: it provides me a good leftward pulse of the issues of the week, and John Dickerson, who is a font of historical political context and plays the centrist on the show. I’ve found that Emily Bazelon will articulate the liberal viewpoint, then David Plotz will reiterate the point, but with a few f-bombs. The hosts do have a good chemistry, usually clocks in at under and hour and ultimately is enjoyable.
The Press Box
The Press Box stemmed from being a sports media-centric podcast, but its content is largely dominated by political analysis, albeit from a media narrative. They don’t hide that they’re both on the left and I listen to it to get a sense of whether they’re happy with the current political narrative this week.
NPR Politics Podcast
The NPR Politics Podcast isn’t overtly left, but I subscribe to the conventional wisdom that the mainstream media leans left. They do a good job of presenting the issue, but their articulation of the conservative viewpoint isn’t done as well as the liberal viewpoint. They have a rotating cast of very experienced and talented reporters that offer good insight. This podcast is currently released every day and lasts 10-20 minutes.
The Bulwark: The Next Level (Honorable Mention)
The Bulwark is a website that rose from the ashes of The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine that was very anti-Trump. This new podcast features three very smart and articulate people who give great insight, but it definitely comes from a place that’s very Anti-Trump (Sarah Longwell and Tim Miller are involved in Republican Voters Against Trump). If you are looking for conservatives that are so anti-Trump that are supporting Biden – which I personally am – you’ll love this podcast. However they’re (unfortunately) not representative of mainstream conservatives. However, they do give me hope.
The Ben Sharpio Show (Dishonorable mention)
I used to be a big Ben Shapiro fan. When I started listening to his podcast in early 2017, he offered a very intelligent and coherent representation of conservative positions, and wasn’t afraid to be critical of Trump. Since the calendar changed to 2020, and especially after the Democratic Primaries, Shapiro’s show has gotten a lot more Trumpist. Rather than be critical of Trump’s mistakes, he just omits from covering them all together, turning the show into a Leftist Bash Fest. If you’re looking for overt Republican/Trump reality-distortion cheer-leading, his show is now for you. It’s been sad to see him take such a fall, but as he used to say, “Partisanship is a hell of a drug”.
I hope this list helps you discover some interesting, thought-provoking, and challenging political content! I’d love to hear about your favorite shows, as I’m always looking for something new!