Taegan Goddard: Outcomes Look Bleak for Republicans

Chris Riback and Taegan Goddard discuss how the Republican presidential nominating process might end.

You can listen to the conversation here.

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Sam Wang: Founder, Princeton Election Consortium

LIVE.RR_WangIt remains impossible to talk about the 2014 Midterms without turning immediately to the big question – the only question –which party will take Senate Control? And who are we to fight that power?

So while we wait 6 weeks for actual results, we turn instead to predictive analysis –deep dives into dozens of race-by-race polls that seem to be released hourly. What do they show? How many seats are truly still in play? Where should we focus attention, and within that focus, what should we be looking for. And most simply, can’t anyone just tell us who’s going to win?

Sam Wang is an Associate professor of neuroscience and molecular biology at Princeton University. He is also founder of the Princeton Election Consortium, where he publishes one of the most-watched polling models around. Sam’s model has come under some scrutiny this election season, as it’s been one of the few models consistently predicting that the Democrats will retain the Senate. What does Wang know that the rest of us don’t?

Listen here at Political Wire.

Nate Silver: Founder and Editor-in-Chief, FiveThirtyEight.com

NateSilverAs we make our way towards the first Tuesday in November, a highly-watched, always-debated component of American politics is ready to take it’s place center stage: Statistical models.

These models, which connect and weight a range of ever-changing data, have replaced the simple “who will win by how many points” projections. And with Senate control both still undetermined and central to our political future, understanding these models is key.

And, of course, none of these models is better known or more anticipated than Nate Silver’s.

Nate Silver almost single-handedly brought the art and science of political statistical modeling in our cultural mainstream. He is founder and editor-in-chief of FiveThirtyEight.

Listen here at Political Wire.

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.

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.

Sam Youngman: Lexington Herald-Leader on Kentucky Politics

Few states have more action right now than Kentucky. It’s home to One of the biggest Senate races – the fight for Mitch McConnell’s office and whether the Minority Leader can come out of this not just with his seat, but perhaps the upgraded title to Majority Leader.

It’s also home to a likely Presidential contender, Kentucky’s junior Senator, Rand Paul, who keeps gaining strength and support, while possibly splitting the Republican Party.

And as if you didn’t know, it’s home to the Kentucky Wildcats, which this weekend could become college basketball’s national champion. Which of these stories is most important to the Blue Grass state?

Well, we’re going to talk politics anyhow. Our guest, Sam Youngman, political reporter at the Lexington Herald Leader who recently wrote that he’d like to have his ashes spread at Rupp Arena where the Wildcats play hoops.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Jeffrey Toobin: New Yorker Staff Writer; CNN Senior Legal Analyst

The next phase of Chris Christie’s bridge scandal has arrived, and it won’t end quickly. It’s the legal battle – subpoenas, documents, testimony and more. To complicate things, it’ll occur across several fronts: legislative and judicial; state and federal; Lane closures on the GWB and alleged suggestions of trading Hurricane Sandy funds for Hoboken development projects.

With so many competing players, goals and possible outcomes, what will the next legal and political steps look like? And how long might they last?

Few people analyze and explain the intersection of law and politics more clearly than Jeffrey Toobin, staff writer at the New Yorker and senior legal analyst at CNN.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Teddy Goff: Obama ’12 Digital Director; Partner, Precision Strategies

With the midterm election season approaching, every aspect of every race will be watched: The issues; positioning; and, of course, campaigns. And within the campaigns, special attention on what’s new – and that means digital.

So what can we expect from digital campaigns? What’s the next wave of ways candidates will try to connect with us – and especially young voters – directly through Facebook, Twitter and so on? How will they get us to donate?

If during either of President Obama’s campaigns you clicked, watched, liked or gave online, then you’re familiar with our guest. Teddy Goff was responsible for state-level digital campaigns in 2008 and served as Digital Director for President Obama’s 2012 campaign. Today he is a Partner at Precision Strategies and was recently named one of Time’s 30 people under 30 who are changing the world.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Stan Greenberg: Polling Adviser, Co-Founder Democracy Corps

The agenda is set. President Obama gave his State of the Union address this week, and he was clear: He wants a year of action, and he’ll go it alone if Congress won’t go with him.

But with Midterm Elections driving the political calendar and 2016 coming on fast – did the President lay groundwork for Democrats to succeed or openings for Republicans to attack? How will the substance – the ideas and goals – resonate with American voters? And for a President who’s been struggling in the polls, has he offered a plan that might turn things around?

Few understand the art and the science of polling more than Stan Greenberg: Polling adviser to President Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Nelson Mandela, among many others; CEO of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and Co-Founder Democracy Corps.

Listen here at Political Wire.

The Making of the State of the Union Address

We spoke with speechwriters for the last three presidents — Jon Favreau, David Frum and Michael Waldman — about what it takes to put together the president’s biggest speech of the year.

They gave us some amazing insights. Listen here at Political Wire.

Jon Favreau: Former Director of Speechwriting for President Obama

The connection between policy and communication is a close one. Get only the policy right, and you’re a wonk. Focus solely on the communication, and you risk being seen as just another political sweet-talker.

For the Obama administration – from health care to the economy to dealing with wars around the world – there’s been a continual need to score high on both fronts. So how to strike the right balance?

One expert on the topic – Jon Favreau, Former director of Speechwriting for President Obama, now a Principal at Fenway Strategies and columnist for The Daily Beast.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Mike Murphy: Political Media Consultant

The challenges for Republicans keep piling up. First it was the Great Divide, the battle between the Tea Party wing and so-called Establishment. Now, NJ Gov. Chris Christie – Fort Lee and Bridgegate, along with Hoboken and Hurricane Sandy Funds. And on Friday, the release of a new – more human – documentary on Mitt Romney – a film that is already raising questions of what type of Presidential candidate Republicans should nominate and how they should run their campaigns.

With 2014 Midterms and a possible Senate takeover on the horizon – and the 2016 Presidential campaign on the mind – can Republicans get their act together? And if so, what’s their best path forward?

To help provide answers, renowned Republican media strategist Mike Murphy. He has handled media and strategy for more than 26 successful Gubernatorial and Senatorial campaigns; he helped run John McCain’s Presidential race in 2000; and today, he’s a partner at Revolution Agency in Washington D.C. and when you’re not following him on Twitter, you can read him in Time and see him on Meet the Press.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Steve Kornacki: MSNBC Host

New Jersey Bridgegate is not slowing down. Questions around how and why several George Washington Bridge access lanes were shut last September – questions around what Governor Chris Christie knew and when he knew it – are not only growing, but now they’ve gone viral.

Thanks to Jimmy Fallon, Bruce Springsteen and a devastating “Born to Run” update, the scandal has jumped from political fiasco to pop culture touchstone. And like those cars in Fort Lee, the issues pile up: Who’s lying? Who’s telling the truth? Why was this done? And why did no one have the brains or courage to stop it?

If you want answers, few people have covered this story more closely – and few know more about New Jersey politics – than Steve Kornacki, host of MSNBC’s Up with Steve Kornacki.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Chuck Todd: NBC News Political Director & Chief White House Correspondent

It took less than 10 days for our first big political scandal of the year to hit: Chris Christie’s revenge. Bridgegate.

Whatever you call it, as we try to understand what happened – and as the New Jersey State Legislature and U.S. Attorney’s Office do the same – questions about Gov. Christie’s temperament and management ability. Is he fit – emotionally and skillfully – to run our country? What does this mean for the Republican party and, of course, the 2016 Presidential race.

And then there’s Congress. With midterm elections on the horizon, another key member announces retirement. How might this affect the campaigns and the ultimate balance?

Joining me to discuss New Jersey, Washington and beyond: Chuck Todd, NBC News’ Chief White House Correspondent and Political Director, as well as Host of “The Daily Rundown” on MSNBC.

Listen here at Political Wire.

David Frum: Writer, Commentator, Former U.S. Presidential Special Assistant

As both parties kick off the 2014 political season – and Midterm primaries and Elections creep closer on the calendar – both parties face questions. For Democrats: How to defend and, if they can, advance Obamacare, minimum wage and other initiatives. For Republicans, the big question also seems to be a basic one: Can’t they all just get along?

The forced government shutdown, various election battles, competing strategies around health care and more have left party members and party watchers wondering what comes next. Many ask how the gap created between the Tea Party wing and the so-called Established branch will affect Republicans’ ability to drive policy and win campaigns.

One person who spends time considering the policy and the politics: David Frum, contributing editor at The Daily Beast, CNN contributor, former special assistant and speechwriter for President George W. Bush, and author of several books, including most-recently “Why Romney Lost (And What The GOP Can Do About It).”

Listen here at Political Wire.

Stuart Stevens, Political Strategist

It was just over a year ago that we held our national poll to decide who would lead our country for the next four years. We know the results: 51-47 percent popular vote – nearly 60-40 by electoral votes – we stayed with President Obama over Former MA Gov. Mitt Romney.

Any campaign, of course, starts with the candidate. But right behind the headliner – a vast network, a billion-dollar start-up that must quickly get into gear and then keep it going at top speed for some two years.

For Romney – as with any campaign – that network faced its share of ups and downs. What really happened behind the scenes? And looking forward, what lessons should Republicans apply to 2014 midterm elections and beyond?

One person with answers: Stuart Stevens, lead political strategist of the Romney campaign. Not only does Stevens remain a political strategist and media consultant with his firm – Strategic Partners & Media – he’s also an author, writer, extreme sports competitor and, soon, releasing a new book about his year of spending Saturdays watching Ole Miss football games with his 95-year-old father.

Listen here at Political Wire.

Mark Halperin, co-Author: “Double Down: Game Change 2012”

The U.S. presidential campaign. It’s the horse race. The often-ridiculous, never-ending, up and down, bad food and bad manners parade of candidates who travel the country for years trying to get that golden 50.1 percent ticket to the White House.

At the same, it’s our democratic process, the national stage where ideas get raised and debated, where our 240-year experiment with democracy plays out in slow motion.

The 2012 campaign – the Obama vs. Romney battle – was no different. Plenty of ideas; plenty of intrigue; plenty of silliness. And today, no one does a more exacting job of retelling what happened in the last campaign – with an eye on what might happen in the next one – than Mark Haperin, Editor-at-large and senior political analyst for TIME and co-author of “Double Down: Game Change 2012.”

Listen here at Political Wire.

Larry Sabato, Univ. of Virginia and Sabato’s Crystal Ball

For anyone trying to make sense now of the 2014 or even 2016 election cycles, good luck. For Republicans, battles around the party’s direction – battles that surely will play out even in upcoming primaries. For Democrats, real questions of how closely candidates will stand behind the President and the health care reform plan.

And then there’s the gridlock – from government shutdown to Obamacare rollout to nuclear option, many Americans wonder what it will take to make government work again.

As the midterm election season approaches, you almost need a crystal ball to get a clear view of what’s most likely to occur. Luckily, we have one.

Larry Sabato is University of Virginia Professor of Politics and director of their Center for Politics. He is also Editor in Chief of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the must-read, detailed analysis for elections across the country.

Listen here at Political Wire.