Political podcasts gear up for US election

It can seem like the United States election cycle is never-ending. With several months still to go before voters head to the polls, radio and TV programmes have been reporting on the twisting road to the party’s national conventions this summer.

Before the televised debates many expected the election to be a straight-forward contest between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. The entrance of Donald Trump into the Republican race and the enduring presence of Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders has made this one of the most intriguing US elections in recent times.

Where news programmes bring us updates on the latest primaries, endorsements and speeches, political podcasts are taking a closer look at the campaigns.

American public broadcaster NPR releases several new episodes of its NPR Politics Podcast each week. Starting with the big headlines of the last few days, often concentrating on the primaries and polls, the hosts chart the winners and losers before analysing the results.

Most of NPR’s episodes come in at around 20 minutes, a preferable length for some between short reports in UK media and longer free-form discussions. Anyone familiar with NPR’s existing podcasts will find the approach and tone of the NPR Politics Podcast more akin to BBC Radio 5 live.

Polls have formed one of the central themes of the 2016 primaries and caucuses. In 2008 a statistician better known for following baseball started a blog to look at the upcoming US election. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight correctly predicted the results in 49 out of 50 states, and four years later correctly predicted the result in all 50 states.

Nate Silver is joined by Clare Malone, Harry Enten and Jody Avirgan every week on the FiveThirtyEight podcast to discuss the polls, issues and voters.

Political strategist David Axelrod hosts The Axe Files for CNN and the University of Chicago. Having worked on Barack Obama’s election campaigns, Axelrod talks to politicians from both sides of the aisle. Recent podcasts include interviews with Lindsey Graham, Nancy Pelosi and director Spike Lee.

The position and policies of US presidents can seem a little distant when discussion is dominated by which candidates ‘won’ and ‘lost’ in the last 24 hours. A podcast from the Washington Post is creating 44 episodes leading up to the election.

Presidential looks at “the character and legacy of each of the American presidents” every Sunday with Pulitzer Prize-winning historians and journalists. Episodes released already look at George Washington, John Adams and less well known presidents James Monroe and Andrew Jackson. Episodes on late 20th Century presidents will arrive in October.

Some campaigns fall short of making the party nomination. Talking to candidates that didn’t make it is Candidate Confessional. A relatively new podcast it has already looked at Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Michelle Bachmann’s campaigns. The podcast describes itself as an attempt to look at the human side of campaigning. Some episodes contain strong language.

The party conventions where candidates will be confirmed take place this July, with the US election being held in November.