68 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 • 55 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.

    Ken Spain of Narrative Strategies...on Capitol Hill, the NRCC, Koch Industries, & Strategic Comms

    Ken Spain of Narrative Strategies...on Capitol Hill, the NRCC, Koch Industries, & Strategic Comms

    Ken Spain, the founder of Narrative Strategies, had worked at high levels in Republican politics and corporate comms before starting his own strategic communications firm. He worked for the Bush/Cheney re-elect in 04, on the Hill for three different GOP members, at a senior position at the NRCC campaign committee, for the Private Equity Council during the tumultuous 2012 elections, & running corporate communications for Koch Industries. In this conversation, Ken talks his path through GOP politics, his perspective as a Hispanic operative,  starting a bipartisan communications firm, and much more.

    IN THIS EPISODE…
    Ken grows up in Richard Nixon country in Southern California as the son of Reagan Democrats…
    Ken breaks into politics working in California legislative politics…
    Ken talks helping the George W. Bush re-election campaign carry New Mexico in 2004…
    What Ken's learned from mentor Ken Mehlman, manager of the 2004 Bush campaign…
    Ken spearheads an effort to help the private equity industry defend itself as it’s attacked during the Mitt Romney presidential campaign…
    Ken talks lessons and tips learned from working for 3 members on Capitol Hill…
    Ken’s breaks down the differences in a well run Hill office versus a poorly-run office…
    Ken’s experience as a Hispanic operative working in GOP politics…
    Ken’s take on why Trump overperformed expectations among Latino voters in 2020…
    Ken’s level of optimism that California Republicans can start winning statewide soon…
    Ken contrasts working at the NRCC in the Dem wave year of 2008 versus the GOP wave in 2010…
    Ken talks his time running corporate communications for Koch Industries…
    Ken’s analysis of what’s often misunderstood about the Koch Brothers’ approach to politics…
    Ken talks the founding of Narrative Strategies and the firm’s growth over the past few years…
    Ken’s best practices for developing a professional network…
    AND 100 hours of focus groups, the 210 freeway, Americans for Prosperity, arcane business models, Bain Capital, Bernalillo County, Tony Blair, Blue Dogs, John Boehner, Rick Boucher, Brexit, Bobby Bright, British Victorian History, Scott Brown, Lois Capps, classical liberalism, Clovis, Tom Cole, community colleges, Mike Conaway, Charlie Cook, dark money, Gray Davis, Tom Davis, Danny Diaz, David Dreier, Larry Elder, flip-floppers, Fullerton, James Gandolfini, Newt Gingrich, Ari Gold, Barry Goldwater, Scott Jennings, jumpballs, Las Cruces, the Latino Summit, Bob Margett, Mary Queen of Scots, Mike McCaul, Kevin McCarthy, Ken Mehlman, moving down the dais, Gavin Newsom, Jim Oberstar, David Obey, Leon Panetta, pension funds, The Private Equity Council, pumpjacks, Harry Reid, Richard Riordan, Santa Barbara, Steve Schmidt, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pete Sessions, John Shadegg, Bill Simon, Ike Skelton, John Spratt, surprise medical billing, Dave Wasserman, Wichita, Pete Wilson…& more!

    • 57 min
    Roger Lau, Warren 2020 Campaign Manager & Deputy ED of the DNC

    Roger Lau, Warren 2020 Campaign Manager & Deputy ED of the DNC

    Roger Lau has one of the most unique origin stories in all of politics. Growing up in Queens as the child of Chinese immigrants, he dropped out of high school...before eventually getting back on track, getting his GED, and taking a fateful Political Science course at UMass Amherst. Roger talks mistakes and lessons from his early days, how he re-focused his life, and the incredible job interview that led him to an internship that shaped the rest of his life. Roger also shares how he entered the world of Elizabeth Warren in 2012, his perspective as manager of the Warren 2020 presidential campaign, and what motivated him to join the DNC after the 2020 elections.

    IN THIS EPISODE
    Roger grows up in Queens as the son of Chinese immigrants…
    Mistakes Roger made early and how he got back on the right track…
    Early political memories from Roger’s childhood…
    The amazing confluence of events that led to Roger interning for Senator John Kerry…
    Roger speaks to the John Kerry he’s seen up-close and personal…
    The role that served as Roger’s “big break” rising through the ranks of politics…
    The roles Ayanna Pressley has played in Roger’s career…
    The Roger Lau 101 for effective campaign managers…
    Roger’s entry point into the world of Elizabeth Warren…
    Roger takes the helm of the Warren 2020 campaign…
    Roger talks the elements that made the Warren campaign unique…
    Two things other 2020 primary campaigns did that impressed Roger…
    What makes Elizabeth Warren unique as a political figure…
    What sparked Roger’s interest in going to work at the DNC…
    What Roger thinks political operatives should understand about the AAPI community…
    AND 123 miles, the 7 line, Joe Biden, Scott Brown, Pete Buttigieg, campaign unions, cardboard corrugating factories, Julian Castro, clown t-shirts, Dorchester, Dunkin Donuts, GEDs, generational talents, hot leads, Jesse Jackson, Joe Kennedy, late night dinners, Monopoly, PS 11, Quincy, Juan Rodriguez, Rockaway Beach, John Rocker, rocket science, Roosevelt Avenue, Maya Rupert, selfie lines, Faiz Shakir, Shea Stadium, the Springfield Republican, teaching America, ugly suits, UMass Amherst, unpaid internships, Washington Square Park, wingwomen, Woodside, Worcester, & more!

    • 50 min
    The NYT's Alex Burns & Jonathan Martin, Authors of THIS WILL NOT PASS

    The NYT's Alex Burns & Jonathan Martin, Authors of THIS WILL NOT PASS

    You no doubt know that Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin, both of the New York Times, recently released their new book THIS WILL NOT PASS…chronicling the last few years of our politics…including Trump’s time in office, the 2020 election and aftermath, the January 6 insurrection, and the first phase of the Biden Administration. In this conversation, they go deep on many of the stories in their book – including some background and asides not fleshed out in the book and stories you won’t have heard from them amidst their recent media blitz.

    IN THIS EPISODE…
    Does Donald Trump really think he won the 2020 election or is this all subterfuge to refuse to acknowledge he lost?
    Which US Senator was prescient in anticipating exactly how Trump would cast doubt on the results post election?
    Why hasn’t President George W. Bush been more vocal against Trump?
    One Republican Senator who typifies the GOP establishment’s difficulty managing Trump?
    How many Republicans would’ve impeached and removed Trump were it a secret ballot?
    Inside Mitch McConnell’s decision to back Trump on impeachment…
    Whose hold on his caucus is more tenuous…Mitch McConnell or Kevin McCarthy…
    The conventional wisdom of what a post-Pelosi Democratic caucus looks like…
    Inside the Biden VP process…
    Inside GOP attempts to woo Senator Manchin to switch parties…
    Weighing in on rumors Trump flirted with dumping Mike Pence from the 2020 ticket…
    The backbench Republican Congressman who captured the House GOP sentiment to give Trump a pass for January 6…
    The Democratic Governor who was one of their favorite interviews…
    The failed GOP Senate recruit who shows the changing of the guard in the Republican Party…
    The interview with the House Republican that demonstrates “the beauty of reporting…”…
    The two colleagues they specifically mention in the acknowledgements…
    The Southern influence on the New York Times…
    Off-the-beaten-path political book recommendations from both Alex and Jonathan…
    AND Air Force One, Lamar Alexander, Don Bacon, Howard Baker, Dean Baquet, Beau Biden, John Boehner, Josh Bolton, Rick Bragg, Mo Brooks, Jeb Bush, Robert Caro, Turner Catledge, Liz Cheney, Chris Christie, Katherine Clark, Hillary Clinton, colonoscopies, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, convenient self-justification, Bob Corker, defied admonitions, difficult truths, Dixiecrats, Duck Run, Tammy Duckworth, Dwight Eisenhower, Facebook, Fox News, Jeffrey Frank, Maggie Haberman, Kamala Harris, Bill Haslam, the House Steering Committee, Sasha Issenberg, Pramila Jayapal, Hakeem Jeffries, Bill Johnson, Jim Jordan, John F Kennedy, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Patrick McHenry, Mt Rushmore, musical chairs, Richard Nixon, Kristi Noem, normie Republicans, Robert Novak, the Progressive Caucus, Howell Raines, real damn Democrats, red carpets, Reservoir Dogs, Campbell Robertson, Karl Rove, Steve Scalise, Brian Schatz, Adam Schiff, Ted Strickland, Gay Talese, Harry Truman, useful fig leaves, JD Vance, Gretchen Whitmer, Roger Wicker, Steve Womack, worry-mongering, Jeff Zients…& more!

    • 46 min
    Hazel Wong, Global Campaigns Director at The Nature Conservancy

    Hazel Wong, Global Campaigns Director at The Nature Conservancy

    Hazel Wong is the Director of Global Conservation Campaigns at The Nature Conservancy, one of the world’s largest and most successful environmental organizations. In this conversation, Hazel talks growing up on the island nation of The Seychelles, how political upheaval forced her family to migrate to the U.S., the future member of Congress who became a political mentor, and experiences and lessons from nearly 20 years helping win environmental ballot measures.
    IN THIS EPISODE…
    Hazel talks memories of the first few years of her life growing up on the island nation of Seychelles…
    Hazel’s father becomes a political prisoner…
    Why it became necessary for Hazel’s family to leave her home and move to the U.S…
    Hazel experiences culture shock once her family moves to Las Vegas…
    The American politician Hazel’s father regularly complained about…
    The future member of Congress who became a mentor to Hazel and steered her toward a career in politics…
    How Hazel first connected with The Nature Conservancy…
    The Hazel Wong best practices on ballot measures which have led to a 88% success rate…
    Hazel talks lessons from winning a campaign in Minnesota and losing a measure in Utah…
    Hazel’s thoughts on how a lack of shared resources is compromising the effectiveness of the environmental movement…
    Hazel talks how climate change has become an “identity issue” and how that makes progress more difficult…
    Why “gloom and doom” climate and change messaging makes it harder to communicate with Americans…
    What Hazel has learned about effectively managing teams over the past 20 years…
    Hazel provides an update on the progress making the environmental movement more diverse…
    Hazel’s tips on building a professional network…
    Hazel updates her thoughts on the concept of a personal “likability number”…
    Hazel’s travel hacks…
    & much more!

    • 43 min
    Dem Strategist Jesse Ferguson on Hillary '16, Messaging 101, & Healing the World

    Dem Strategist Jesse Ferguson on Hillary '16, Messaging 101, & Healing the World

    Jesse Ferguson is a top Democratic strategist and comms expert - who cut his teeth in Virginia, ran the $60M+ DCCC Independent Expenditure in 2014, served as a top press aide to the Clinton ’16 campaign, and is now a strategist advising numerous organizations and independent expenditures. In this conversation, Jesse talks key moments and lessons from his career, as well as providing his Messaging 101 on how he thinks of effective political communications.
    IN THIS EPISODE…
    Jesse’s family connection to Joe McCarthy and the 1950s Red Scare…
    Jesse’s early Republican leanings and the high-profile Republican he almost interned for…
    Jesse’s theory of Virginia as a trendsetter in American politics…
    Jesse talks the importance of Mark Warner in the rise of Virginia Democrats…
    In college, Jesse starts Virginia21 to encourage more investment in Virginia higher education…
    Jesse talks the value of getting experience outside of DC…
    Jesse navigates multiple cycles rising through the ranks at the DCCC…
    Lessons from his “favorite job” running the DCCC IE in 2014…
    Jesse talks his senior comms role in the Hillary Clinton 2016 race…
    The 3 challenges the Hillary 2016 campaign had with the press…
    Jesse shares insights from health struggles he’s faced…
    Jesse provides his Messaging 101 on speaking on the record, outlandish stunts, getting earned media, and more…
    Jesse’s go-to “ABCV” message trick…
    The three TV shows that form the backbone of Jesse’s approach to life…
    AND…agents of intolerance, George Allen, Mark Bergman, Demand Justice, Dukakis bumper stickers, early warning signs, earworms, Brian Fallon, Jerry Falwell, flowing hair, fruit flies, Steve Israel, Steve Jarding, Tim Kaine, kazoos, Abraham Lincoln, Travis Lowe, Stewart Mills, Robby Mook, Rick Nolan, Ralph Northam, The Palm, Jen Palmieri, Ed Peavy, pneumonic devices, press releases on camera, Protect Our Care, Red Dawn, Mame Reiley, the Richmond Jewish community, Pat Robertson, robots, Rockefeller Republicans, Michael Scherer, screen agnosticism, sharp elbows, Star Wars, Tikkun olam, Joe Trippi, the Urban Crescent, Kelly Ward, William & Mary, & more!

    • 51 min
    Democratic Pollster Celinda Lake on A Trailblazing Career in Politics

    Democratic Pollster Celinda Lake on A Trailblazing Career in Politics

    Celinda Lake, President of Lake Research, has been a leading Democratic researcher and strategist for 30+ years. In this conversation she talks her Montana roots, her path to polling, working for groundbreaking women like Geraldine Ferraro, Carol Mosley Braun, and Nancy Pelosi, working on Biden 2020, and lessons & insights from four decades working to elect Democrats and advance progressive goals. 
    IN THIS EPISODE…
    Celinda talks growing up on a ranch in Montana…
    The progressive tradition in Montana…
    The Vietnam War influences Celinda’s politics…
    Celinda’s theory on why Montana produces so much political talent…
    Celinda moves from the academic world to the campaign world…
    Celinda tells the story of one of her heroes, the first woman pollster in politics…
    The first races on which Celinda cut her teeth as a political pollster…
    Celinda remembers lessons learned from heading up focus groups for Clinton-Gore ’92…
    The origins and rise of Lake Research…
    The story of turning down a US Senator who wanted to work with Lake Research…
    How Celinda thinks of issue messaging…
    Celinda talks the challenges women candidates face…
    Celinda’s memories of working with trailblazers Geraldine Ferraro, Barbara Mikulski, Carol Mosley Braun, and Nancy Pelosi…
    Celinda polls for AOC during her 2018 upset…
    What Celinda knows about Joe Biden that might not be common knowledge…
    Celinda’s take on what makes a good pollster…
    Celinda’s strangest work habit…
    AND….22 rifles, Spence Abraham, John Anzalone, Jerry Austin, David Axelrod, the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, Matt Barreto, Max Baucus, Jill Biden, Valerie Biden, Heather Booth, blueberry muffins, Ron Brown, James Carville, the cat’s meow, Hillary Clinton, Copper Kings, country schools, Joe Crowley, Mike Donilon, EEOC lawyers, Emerge, EMILYs List, fitbits, Kathleen Frankovic, Anderson Gardner, gatekeeping, Geoff Garin, Geneva, the gender gap, Ed Goeas, Mandy Grunwald, Stan Greenberg, Bill Hamilton, Kamala Harris, Gary Hart, Peter Hart, Harrison Hickman, Higher Heights, Italian city-states, Justice Democrats, George Lakoff, Joe Lamson, Ed Lazarus, Silas Lee, Ann Lewis, looking for patterns, Mike Lux, Dotty Lynch, mainframes, Nelson Mandela, Mike Mansfield, Mark Mellman, Jim Messina, Lee Metcalf, Warren Miller, Barbara Mikulski, Walter Mondale, Motown, new voices, Northern Plains Resource Council, Kathleen O’Reilly, Ross Perot, John Podesta, Lana Pollack, Bob Putnam, the race-class narrative, ranked-choice voting, Jeanette Rankin, Ready to Run, Ronald Reagan, red state sensibilities, Nelson Rockefeller, Steve Rosenthal, Anat Shenker-Osorio, Smith College, Alysia Snell, social proof, Social Security cards, Doug Sosnik, Debbie Stabenow, Gail Stoltz, student deferments, Phil Tawney, Jon Tester, two for one, University of Michigan, Kathy van Hook, Women’s Campaign Fund, The Women’s Lobby, Pat Williams, & more!

    • 53 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
55 Ratings

55 Ratings

Name Here Fool ,

Valuable Insights

See title

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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