Doug Schoen: Political Strategist, Pollster

douglas.schoen-pollster1Today’s issue, who’s running harder against President Obama – Republicans or Democrats? The question is only partly exaggerated.

From criticism on “who lost Iraq” to the handling of the Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange to even the environment. And, of course, there’s always Obamacare.

So how legitimate is this criticism? Is President Obama – and his low approval ratings in various key states – weighing down the team? Should Democrats be more constructive and supportive of their chief?

Doug Schoen is one of the most influential Democratic campaign consultants for over thirty years. He served as a political adviser and pollster for President Bill Clinton from 1994-2000, and has worked with mayors, governors and heads of state in more than 15 countries. He is a founding partner and principle strategist for Penn, Schoen & Berland and widely recognized as one of the co-inventors of overnight polling.

Listen here at Political Wire.

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Philip K. Howard: Author, “The Rule of Nobody”

1905For anyone who looks at our government today and says, “Everything seems great to me. No room for improvement here,” well, today’s conversation is not for you.

Now that that person has stopped listening, here’s what the rest of America can learn from today’s talk: The problem is even worse that you thought. While most discussion on fixing government deals with the politics and the posturing, we instead might want to focus on something much more difficult to fix: Nobody is actually in charge. A mountain of overlapping, contradictory and often unnecessary laws, regulations, oversight committees and more seem designed specifically to block responsibility and accountability – and ensure the status quo.

So how did we get here? How can we get out? And where is the leadership?

Few think about the need to simplify and clarify American government, policies and laws more than Philip K. Howard: Lawyer, author and thoughtful critic of the areas of our political system many others seem to ignore. He is Founder & Chair of Common Good and his new book is “The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government.”

Listen here at Political Wire.

Ken Vogel: Author, “Big Money”

18467752At first glance, today’s conversation might seem as surprising as dog bites man: Money has taken over our political process. I know – not a shocker. But what if I told you that, quite possibly, our next President will be chosen by 5 or 6 of the richest people in America? Or a dozen? Certainly no more than 100?

It’s hardly an exaggeration. From the historic growth of PACs to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision through now the increasing mega-wealth of the top .01 percent, the role of the super rich in politics has grown exponentially. Control of America’s future has shifted from political parties to power players – individuals who bankroll campaigns and collect politicians like sports franchise. And this is no fantasy league.

What does this shift in money and influence mean for our political future? Who are these individuals and what are they doing to our democracy? While you may know some of the names – Koch or Adelson or Soros or Katzenberg – you likely don’t know them all.

Kenneth Vogel, however, does. Ken covers the confluence of money, politics and influence for Politico. He’s also author of the new must-read book “Big Money: 2.5 Billion Dollars, One Suspicious Vehicle, and a Pimp—on the Trail of the Ultra-Rich Hijacking American Politics.”

Listen here at Political Wire.

Joe Lockhart: Former White House Press Secretary

Lockhart_Joe_240x250The White House recently announced a change at the top. Not the very top, of course, but as head of the Press Office. Jay Carney is stepping down; Josh Earnest is stepping up.

The White House Press Secretary is, quite often, America’s face to the world. And speaking for the President, sometimes several times a day, the Press Secretary faces many masters – the Commander in Chief, the media, and of course, the American people.

So how to balance the competing pressures: For example, protecting information responsibly vs. the public’s right to know? Particularly in these highly partisan times – with POW swaps, VA scandals, Midterms, Obamacare fights and more – how do you balance policy with politics?

Few in the role had to walk that line more regularly Joe Lockhart, who served as President Clinton’s Press Secretary. Today he is a Founding Partner and Managing Director of The Glover Park Group, which offers media, communications and political strategy to global corporations and non-profits. He also served as Vice President of global communications for Facebook.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Nate Cohn: NY Times’ “The Upshot,” on Data, Forecasting Models & Politics

nyt-upshot-logo-finalForget the Koch Brothers or Super PACs or even President Obama. The most-watched player in the 2014 Midterms just might be a computer program called LEO.

LEO is the always-on, data-crunching, poll-adjusting Senate forecasting model used by the New York Times. Each day LEO takes the latest polls and historical data from around the country, blends in other information like fundraising and national polling, and then simulates all 36 Senate races – 250,000 times. And from that, each day LEO speaks about which party will win the Midterm’s grand prize – U.S. Senate control.

So following several big weeks of primary voting, what does LEO have to say… and why should we believe it?

Nate Cohn is a reporter at the New York Times’ new hot spot – The Upshot – where he covers elections, polling and demographics.

Listen here at Political Wire.