43 episodes

Political pollster Zac McCrary interviews interesting people who work in and around the political industry. Guests come from a multitude of backgrounds and specialties within the political industry, and span the partisan spectrum. This is not a podcast for partisan squabbling or punditry about the latest issue in DC - it is hearing directly from successful people in the industry...their stories, experiences, and advice. This is a podcast for anyone who works in politics, hopes to work in politics, or wants to get up close to see how things really work in the world of professional politics.

Pro Politics with Zac McCrary Zac McCrary

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    • 5.0 • 50 Ratings

Political pollster Zac McCrary interviews interesting people who work in and around the political industry. Guests come from a multitude of backgrounds and specialties within the political industry, and span the partisan spectrum. This is not a podcast for partisan squabbling or punditry about the latest issue in DC - it is hearing directly from successful people in the industry...their stories, experiences, and advice. This is a podcast for anyone who works in politics, hopes to work in politics, or wants to get up close to see how things really work in the world of professional politics.

    Taifa Butler, President of Demos - The "Think Tank of The Movement"

    Taifa Butler, President of Demos - The "Think Tank of The Movement"

    Taifa Butler is the President of Demos, the “think tank of the movement” - dedicated to building a democracy and economy rooted in racial equity. Taifa talks the politics of her native Philadelphia in her formative years, what inspired her to pursue a life in politics and advocacy, her path to becoming President of Demos in early 2021, the work she’s most passionate about now, and her best practices on leadership, fundraising, public speaking, and much more.

    IN THIS EPISODE
    Taifa talks growing up amidst the tumultuous Philadelphia political scene in the 70s and 80s…
    Taifa remembers the momentous transition in the city from Mayor Frank Rizzo to Mayor Wilson Goode…
    The experience as a junior in high school that set Taifa on her path toward politics and advocacy…
    Taifa talks how single-sex schools gave her important opportunities…
    The lessons Taifa learned in a narrow loss running for local office…
    Taifa de-mystifies the role that think tanks can play in our politics…
    Taifa’s thoughts on how advocates can be successful even when partisan and ideological currents work against them…
    Taifa remembers what she’s seen working with and around Stacey Abrams…
    Taifa talks the priorities of the progressive think tank Demos and her path to becoming its President…
    Taifa explains what it looks like to head a large national think tank…
    Taifa talks how to avoid non-profit jargon…
    Taifa’s thoughts on how to build the right team for an organization, plus tips for jobseekers…
    Taifa’s 101 on how she thinks about racial equity and advice for those looking to learn more…
    Taifa’s tips for those who want to improve their public-speaking skill set…
    Taifa’s “one unusual work habit”…
    …and much more!

    • 51 min
    Great Campaign Stories Compilation: March-May 2021

    Great Campaign Stories Compilation: March-May 2021

    This week's episode is a compilation of some of my favorite campaign war stories and memorable moments from the first three months of episodes, covering March - May 2021. 
    IN THIS EPISODE 
    Paul Begala talks a key lesson he learned from the 1984 Texas Senate race…and the Democratic candidate the Clinton campaign believed posed the greatest threat to Clinton in the primaries.
    Rebecca Pearcey, Political Director on the Warren 2020 presidential, recalls crossing paths with celebrities on the campaign trail and breaks down the value and mechanics of Elizabeth Warren’s selfie lines from the 2020 primaries…
    Glen Bolger, Republican pollster, shares a memory from 1988 demonstrating showing how unprepared GOP institutions were when George HW Bush chose Dan Quayle to be his VP nominee…and – as the pollster for Senator Thom Tillis – weighs in on whether or not the Cal Cunningham affair made the difference in the 2020 NC Senate race…
    Rose Kapolczynski, manager of Barbara Boxer’s four successful Senate campaigns, takes us deep inside Barbara Boxer’s underdog 1992 Senate race…and talks the role the Anita Hill / Clarence Thomas hearings had in the race and in creating that cycle’s “Year of the Woman”…
    Two-term Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed shares fantastic stories about two of his mentors, Mayors Maynard Jackson and Willie Brown…
    Saul Shorr, Democratic admaker, talks about his memories of Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan - including the historic winning 2000 Senate race that took place three weeks after Governor Carnahan died in a tragic plane crash…
    Democratic media strategist Martha McKenna remembers her front row seat seeing the political origins of now Cabinet Secretaries Deb Haaland and Pete Buttigieg…
    Mike Murphy, GOP media guru, talks two of the times he rubbed the brass of the Bush ’92 re-election team the wrong way…and shares a fantastic Pat Buchanan story…
    Faiz Shakir, Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign manager, goes deep into the 2020 campaign, including the re-boot of the campaign after Senator Sanders’ heart scare, the campaign’s theory of the race, and a couple of things he’d want to handle differently in hindsight…
    Founder of House Majority PAC Ali Lapp recounts one of her favorite examples of HMP utilizing creative tactics to help Democrats win a tough House seat in 2016…

    • 55 min
    CNN's Ariel Edwards-Levy on All Things Polling

    CNN's Ariel Edwards-Levy on All Things Polling

    Ariel Edwards-Levy is CNN's Polling and Elections Analytics Editor, after covering the public opinion beat at Huffington Post for several cycles. In this episode she talks growing up in Southern California, the election that hooked her on politics at a young age, her early days in journalism, how she gravitated toward the polling beat, her transition from Huffington Post to CNN, and Ariel tackles many of the weighty questions confronting the field of polling.
    IN THIS EPISODE

    Ariel self-identifies as an LA Valley Girl…
    Ariel’s political awareness starts around the 2000 Bush-Gore election…
    Ariel fondly remembers the days of getting the daily print newspaper…
    Ariel talks the connections between her background as a journalist to her current focus on polling…
    Ariel talks her early path in journalism and how she came to the polling beat at the Huffington Post…
    Ariel talks her transition from Huffington Post to CNN…
    Ariel talks through what the day job of the Polling and Analytics Editor at CNN actually is…
    Ariel weighs in on the state of the polling industry…
    Ariel breaks down the differential non-response bias problem…
    Ariel on both improvements polling has made recently as well as challenges the field still faces…
    Ariel talks the mistakes that get under her skin from some public polling…
    Ariel talks how she thinks about tackling polling complex issues…
    Ariel’s best practices for people to become savvy consumers of public opinion data…
    Ariel talks the value of qualitative research…
    Ariel talks how she’s developed a large Twitter footprint…
    Ariel’s one quirky work habit…

    • 44 min
    Jeff Romig: Political Operative, Author, Mental Health Advocate

    Jeff Romig: Political Operative, Author, Mental Health Advocate

    Jeff Romig has been working in the trenches of politics for well over a decade. Inspired to work in campaigns by Congressman John Lewis, he's worked in all phases of campaigns to win tough races at the state and local level - and he's deeply experienced running non-profits as well. But the time is right now to talk to Jeff, as he's just released a memoir about living for 25 years in the shadow of his father's suicide and coming to grips with his own mental health and addiction issues. The book, Don't F***ing Kill Yourself (dfkybook.com), was released last week and is already an Amazon Bestseller. I find Jeff's book and story to be very timely as the conversation about mental health concerns for those who work in and around politics is just starting to happen. I appreciate Jeff's openness in his book and his commitment to using his own life and struggles to help keep this important conversation going.
    IN THIS EPISODE…
    Jeff bounces around in journalism in South Carolina and Indiana before finding his way to working politics…
    Spending time around Congressman John Lewis inspires Jeff toward a career in politics…
    Jeff tells memorable stories of being up close and personal with John Lewis…
    Jeff talks through some of the key moments from his career working in politics…
    Jeff talks the parallels between being a working journalist and a political operative…
    Jeff talks his best practices from years of helping non-profits succeed and grow…
    Jeff talks through his new book and what motivated him to write it…
    Jeff talks about the need to de-stigmatize suicidal ideation…
    Jeff talks about some of the specific mental health challenges he’s run across while working in politics…
    Jeff talks his struggle with alcoholism and the mental health and recovery tools that have helped him…
    Jeff talks the nuts-and-bolts of how his book went from a broad concept to a completed, published work…

    • 31 min
    Doug Jones on The Bend Toward Justice, Political Hurricanes, & 3 Years in the Senate

    Doug Jones on The Bend Toward Justice, Political Hurricanes, & 3 Years in the Senate

    Over the course of 2017, Doug Jones went from a respected Alabama attorney and empty nester to one of the most well-known US Senators in the country. In this conversation, we talk growing up in the shadow of segregation and George Wallace, starting to see those walls come down as he’s in high school, learning under his mentor Senator Howell Heflin, his time as US Attorney seeking justice against the Klan for the 1963 bombing of a Black church in Birmingham, the upset win and political hurricane in his 2017 special election, and memories of 3 influential years in the US Senate.
    IN THIS EPISODE…
    Sen Jones talks growing up in the segregated South and then seeing the world change before his eyes…
    He remembers the toxic legacy of Governor George Wallace…
    He remembers his time as an aide for his mentor, the iconic Alabama Senator (Judge) Howell Heflin…
    His memories of the Senate Judiciary Committee of the late 1970s…
    The twists-and-turns that lead to the opportunity to become US Attorney in 1997…
    US Attorney Jones helps deliver justice decades-later in the cold case of the KKK bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham…
    He talks his aborted race against Jeff Sessions in 2002…
    Why he decided to run for Senate 15 years later in 2017…
    Inside the 2017 Senate race when the entire political universe turns its eyes toward Doug Jones…
    The role Republican Senator Richard Shelby played in the 2017 race…
    Senator Jones talks the historic Black voter turnout in 2017…
    What surprised him about the Senate when he’s sworn in…
    What he’s most proud of from his tenure in the Senate…
    Senator Jones talks his No vote on the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings…
    He weighs in on the current debates in the US Senate…
    AND Lamar Alexander, Jim Allen, Arent Fox, Bill Baxley, Birch Bayh, Joe Biden, Amelia Boynton, Brown vs the Board of Education, Build Back Better, Center for American Progress, the Civil Rights Trail, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Bull Connor, constitutional compasses, John Culver, Joe Donnelly, Dwight Eisenhower, the Equal Justice Initiative, Medgar Evers, Christine Blasey Ford, Cory Gardner, Gold Star widows, Chuck Grassley, HBCUs, Claude Harris, Kamala Harris, Chris Hastings, Orrin Hatch, Heidi Heitkamp, Mike House, human infrastructure, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Johnny Isakson, Mick Jagger, Kelly Ingram Park, Caroline Kennedy, JFK, Ted Kennedy, Kay Ivey, John Lewis, MLK, Paul Laxalt, Pat Leahy, John McCain, Claire McCaskill, Chris McNair, Howard Metzenbaum, Walter Mondale, money from heaven, the only game in town, Mike Pence, Giles Perkins, Janet Reno, Right Side of History PAC, Rosa Parks, Alan Simpson, Tina Smith, John Sparkman, Frank Stitt, Jon Tester, Strom Thurmond, Joe Trippi, Doug Turner, unprofessional demeanors, US Steel, Hosea Williams, the Women’s March, a Yoda doll….& more!

    • 52 min
    Chuck Robb of Virginia...Governor, Senator, Marine

    Chuck Robb of Virginia...Governor, Senator, Marine

    Who else has a story like Chuck Robb? Marries the President Johnson's daughter in a White House ceremony, serves in Vietnam, changes the political culture of Virginia in the 70s and 80s, two consequential terms in the Senate, helps found the influential centrist DLC, and casts several courageous, unpopular votes that ultimately take a toll on his career in elected office. This is a frank, revealing conversation though Governor Robb's one-of-a-kind political life.

    IN THIS EPISODE…
    Governor Robb’s indirect connection to Woodrow Wilson…
    His formative time in the Marines, including combat in Vietnam…
    A young Chuck Robb’s ceremonial role in the LBJ White House…
    He recalls a meeting in the Lincoln Bedroom asking the President Johnson’s blessing to marry his daughter Linda…
    More of his memories from seeing President Johnson up close…
    He also speaks to the important role that Lady Bird Johnson played in President Johnson’s career…
    He weighs in on the “rivalry” between the Kennedys and the Johnsons…
    The ribbing from John McCain that would always get a rise from Governor Robb…
    The early days kicking his political career off in Virginia…
    The 1984 DNC Convention speech he gave that gave rise to the centrist, DLC movement…
    Why he never ran for President…
    The long relationship between Chuck Robb and Doug Wilder…
    He remembers his iconic 1994 re-election race against Oliver North…
    He talks through his courageous 1996 vote against the Defense of Marriage Act…
    He also talks his reversal of opinion to cast a vote against the Flag Burning Amendment…
    He talks his losing 2000 race against George Allen and gives advice to candidates running as underdogs…
    Weighing in on the debate over the filibuster reform…
    He talks the roles he’s taken on after his Senate career…
    AND…8th and I, Joe Biden, Harry Byrd, Bill Clinton, Marshall Coleman, Jim Crow, Everett Dirksen, Episcopalians, John Glenn, heifers, Howell Heflin, Hubert Humphrey, HMX-1, Scoop Jackson, Barbara Jordan, Robert Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, John McCain, mixed doubles with Ethel Kennedy, muddy boot Marines, Sam Nunn, Strom Thurmond, the USS Northampton, the WMD Commission, Robert W. Wooley, & more!

    • 48 min

Customer Reviews

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50 Ratings

50 Ratings

Name Here Fool ,

Valuable Insights

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Ghent, NY ,

Political culture

Zac is a good interviewer who knows that these convos are about the guest he is interviewing and their lives, not just professionally but who they are, their life story and how it evolved. Feel like I’m gaining a state by state education, politically and culturally. Absorbing and fascinating.

kpemrick ,

Most Insightful Political Pod

Having worked on a campaign with Zac, he brings the same preparation to his podcast that he brings to his work. One of the best pollsters in the business, he's branched out to creating an interesting and extremely insightful look into U.S. politics. His guests care deeply about their craft and sharing their passion for American politics through a more personal lens than someone on cable news. They share stories of hard-work and hilarity, but offer a real impression of how top decision makers navigate the political game. What Zac doesn't know from his years as a political junkie, he does his homework so to ask questions that allow his guests to detail the joyous highs and somber lows of their careers. I've been in this profession for 21 years as a U.S. House Legislative Director, congressional Campaign Manager, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of a lobbying firm, and adjunct professor in government, yet there is so much I learn from each guest that I find myself rewinding to make sure I hear it again. I've shared certain episodes with people in my network and suggested the pod to my students so they can enhance their understanding of American politics. A must listen for anyone wanting to sharpen their political skills or listen to some of the best and most interesting people in politics.

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