Every Friday, Amy Walter brings you the trends in politics long before the national media picks up on them.
Known as one of the smartest and most trusted journalists in Washington, D.C., Amy Walter is respected by politicians and pundits on all sides of the aisle. You may know Amy her from her work with Cook Political Report and the PBS NewsHour where she looks beyond the breaking news headlines for a deeper understanding of how Washington works, who's pulling the levers of power, and how it all impacts you.
Politics with Amy Walter is a co-production of PRI and WNYC Radio in collaboration WGBH.
Freshman Conversation: Representative-Elect Ashley Hinson, IA-01
Republican Congresswoman-elect Ashley Hinson is one of a record-breaking number of Republican women who’ve been elected to Congress this year. Prior to becoming a congresswoman, she was a state representative and a news and television reporter.
Hinson will replace Representative Abby Finkenauer, who flipped the seat from red to blue in 2018. Hinson, who ran on a message of bipartisanship, spoke with host Amy Walter on Monday while she was participating in virtual freshmen orientation and isolating after receiving a positive coronavirus diagnosis.
Check out our 2020 election coverage here.
Check out the full freshman conversation series here.
Check out our series, "A Votar: A Look at Latino Voters in the 2020 U.S. Election," here.
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How a Biden White House will Approach Climate Change
The priority for many Democratic voters in the most recent election cycle was removing President Donald Trump from the White House. This was clear after a crowded primary field coalesced around Joe Biden. But the world is a different place than it was in March and because the election cycle was dominated by the ongoing pandemic and economic crisis, it was difficult for other issues to gain traction.
But for younger voters, environmental justice and climate policy are a top priority. Climate change has animated a generation of voters, many of whom spent months making calls and texts to swing states, even though Joe Biden was not their first choice nominee. These voters are paying close attention to who Biden appoints to his cabinet and to lead agencies as a means to gauge how seriously he’ll be taking their top issue.
Throughout his time in office, President Trump aggressively went after more than 100 environmental rules aimed at protecting the integrity of water, land, and air.
While President-elect Biden will have the ability to issue executive orders at his disposal, there’s division within his own party about how aggressive he should be on the issue.
Coral Davenport, energy and environmental policy reporter at The New York Times, Jody Freeman, law professor at Harvard University and former counselor for energy and climate change in the Obama White House, and Waleed Shahid, spokesperson for the Justice Democrats describe how the Biden administration might proceed with pursuing climate change policy in a hyperpolarized political landscape.
As part of our continuing series with the freshman members of the 117th Congress, host Amy Walter spoke with Democratic Congresswoman-elect Marilyn Strickland from Washington and Republican Congresswoman-elect Ashley Hinson from Iowa. They both share what they’re hoping to accomplish in their first term and how they plan on working through partisan gridlock. You can hear extended conversations with the newest members of congress here.
A Presidential Transition Delayed
By refusing to concede, President Trump is not only disrupting the peaceful transfer of power, a cornerstone of American democracy, but he’s delaying the Biden administration access to pertinent information. The formal transition process we know today came to exist after the 9/11 Commission Report found that the delay in installing President George W. Bush hurt his administration.
Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, a senior fellow at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and senior research director at the White House Transition Project, describes the impact of a truncated presidential transition.
President-elect Biden is attempting to assemble members of his senior team while the current president seems determined to do the opposite. With just about two months left in his term, President Trump has fired a number of high-profile members of his administration. This includes Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration Lisa Gordon-Hagerty.
Lisa Rein, a reporter covering federal agencies and the management of government in the Trump administration for The Washington Post, describes why the president would pursue this avenue at the end of his tenure.
This week, newly elected members of Congress convened on Capitol Hill for freshmen orientation. Although Democrats speculated that they would expand their majority, they ended up losing eight seats. In the days since, some moderate members of Congress have speculated that progressive issues like Medicare for all cost Democrats a supermajority. Congressman-elect Mondaire Jones and Congresswoman-elect Carolyn Bourdeaux share what it’s like to be joining Congress at this moment. This conversation is part of a continuing series on the freshmen members of the 117th Congress. You can listen to extended interviews here.
If President-elect Biden holds his lead over President Donald Trump, it would mean that Georgia has moved from red to blue for the first time since 1992. For years, southern states like Georgia have sat reliably in the Republican column, but voters in cities like Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs played a definitive role in moving the state to the left. Georgia's competitive political landscape is emphasized by the fact that the state will soon hold two runoff elections that will determine which party controls the senate. Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University, describes the state’s changing electorate and the future of state-wide races.
After every election members of the media and politicians attempt to understand patterns that emerged among voters. One element of the 2020 election cycle that stood out to many is how in South Texas, President-elect Joe Biden underperformed when it came to predominantly Latino counties that typically break for Democrats by wide margins.
While Biden won the majority of support in predominantly Latino precincts in El Paso County and Dallas county, in counties along the border including Hidalgo, Zapata, and Starr, Biden’s standing slipped considerably from where Hillary Clinton stood four years ago.
Arelis Hernández, a reporter covering the U.S. southern border, immigration, and Texas for The Washington Post, explains how President Trump made gains within these communities.
Joe Biden Wins Presidency
All week, election results have trickled in from across the country. With just a few states outstanding, Vice President Joe Biden has surpassed the 270 threshold of electoral votes to win the race for the presidency. Maya King, politics reporter at Politico, and Joel Payne, Democratic strategist and host of "Here Comes the Payne," weigh in on what a Biden win means and how political dynamics in Congress could shift.
The Next President of the United States
Not immediately knowing which candidate won the White House has long been a reality of a world changed by COVID-19. What campaigns, pundits, and pollsters failed to predict was the distance that would separate the results from the expectations. Tim Alberta, chief political correspondent at Politico, Sahil Kapur, national political reporter for NBC News, and Clare Malone, senior politics writer at FiveThirtyEight, analyze the incomplete election results and what Congress could look like when the dust settles.
President Trump has consistently and falsely asserted that losing reelection would mean that the White House was stolen from him. Meanwhile, election officials across the country have been working diligently to maintain free and fair elections. This year, their jobs include responding to a pandemic and refuting conspiracy theories. Election officials from across the country describe how Election Day 2020 went and how things could improve for future elections.
As Joe Biden gets closer to winning the electoral college, the Trump campaign is taking to the courts in an attempt to challenge the results. In the past few days, states like Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania have all seen lawsuits calling into question their process of counting ballots, though there’s no evidence supporting the president’s claims of voter fraud. While some of the lawsuits have already been dismissed, others are still in play. Toluse Olorunnipa, a White House reporter for the Washington Post, breaks down the Trump campaign’s recent legal action.
In the Trump era, political polarization has reached a level not seen since the Civil War. Though this polarization didn't start with President Trump's campaign and subsequent administration, it has brought the deepening divide to the surface--and to the ballot box--with voter turnout this week reaching record numbers. Lilliana Mason, professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland and author of "Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity," walks us through the widening political divide in the U.S. and what it means for how the country moves forward, regardless of who wins the 2020 election.
Amy's closing thoughts:
"The political profession. No other career as prosaic has been glamorized more. In movies and on TV, everyone who works for or as a politician is beautiful, smart, and ambitious. All are doing super important work that is changing the world. Even the interns are drafting amendments that protect our way of life.
In real life, of course, politics is messy. And, more important, boring. For every election night balloon drop victory party, there are a million days filled with the crushingly tedious work of voter contact and fundraising and town hall meetings filled with cranky and angry constituents.
But, as we learned this week, it is the people who do the non-glamorous work, those who spend almost every single day of their entire career in relative ambiguity, who help keep our democratic institutions steady. I’m talking about the elected officials, poll workers, and office staff, who ensured that this election - an election taking place in the middle of a health pandemic and with record turnout - was conducted as fairly, smoothly, and judiciously as possible. They are doing this work under great duress and stress. They continue to do their job even as the president of the United States - without any evidence - takes to the White House briefing room to question their integrity.
When the election is over, these folks aren’t going to get a sweet cable TV gig or their own podcast. Instead, they are going to go back to their offices and prepare for the next election.
For all of you who are cynical or anxious about the sturdiness of the guardrails protecting our democratic institutions, look no further than the local officials in charge of vot
Final Thoughts Before Election Day
The ongoing campaign cycle was met by a number of twists that couldn’t have been predicted. A consequential presidential race, the pandemic, an economic downturn, and the killing of George Floyd by police. As the election cycle comes to an end, Heather Long, Economics Correspondent at The Washington Post, Maya King, Politics Reporter at Politico and Clare Malone, Senior Politics Writer at FiveThirtyEight analyze the last year of politics and dissect what it could mean for Tuesday’s outcome.
A standard election cycle would’ve meant interacting with voters at conventions, town halls, and canvassing events. As the pandemic upended traditional forms of campaigning, we’ve spent the last few months engaging with students, teachers, small business owners, religious leaders, and individuals from across the U.S. They update us on how things have changed since we last spoke and what hopes, if any, they have riding on Election Day.
The most recent national polls shows President Trump is trailing Vice President Joe Biden by almost nine points. Four years ago, pundits and politicians relied on polls that failed to account for counties that should’ve served as warning signs for Democrats. This time around there are fewer undecided and third-party voters who could swing us towards a surprise. Dave Wasserman, House Editor for The Cook Political Report, describes his reporting on key bellwether counties that could determine the outcome of the election.
President Trump has spent the last few months maligning the voting process and attempting to cast doubt on the outcome of the election. He’s made a number of misleading comments regarding absentee voting and has incorrectly stated that the process of counting ballots should end on November 3rd. Grace Panetta, Senior Politics Reporter Covering Elections and Voting for Business Insider, describes what we can expect on election night and beyond.