151 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

    • News
    • 4.9 • 68 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.

    Whit Ayres & 30+ Years as a Top GOP Pollster

    Whit Ayres & 30+ Years as a Top GOP Pollster

    Whit Ayres, founder and president of North Star Opinion Research, has been a leading GOP pollster for more than 30 years. First a high school teacher then an academic, he cut his political teeth as state Budget Director for South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell. As a pollster, upset Senate victories for Georgia Senator Paul Coverdell in 1992 and Tennessee Senator Bill Frist in 1994 put Whit and his firm on the map. And since then he's worked for some of the biggest names in GOP politics: Strom Thurmond, Lamar Alexander, Marco Rubio, Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham, Ron DeSantis, among others. In this conversation, Whit talks his path to politics, favorite campaign stories, most famous clients, best polling practices, thoughts on the trajectory of the GOP and much more.


    IN THIS EPISODE


    Whit's interest in politics sparks in an Ames, Iowa high school classroom...


    The "searing experience" that influenced him in 1970s Berlin...


    What Whit learned teaching 8th grade public school for three years...


    Whit's gets his start in politics working for future South Carolina Governor Carroll Campbell...


    How a vetoed pay raise encouraged Whit to take up political polling...


    Whit's first big client, Paul Coverdell, wins an upset Georgia Senate race in 1992...


    Whit's role in Lamar Alexander's insurgent 1996 GOP Presidential Primary campaign...


    Whit helps re-elect South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond at age 94 to his last term in the Senate...


    Whit polls for Marco Rubio's underdog first US Senate race in 2010 over Florida Governor Charlie Crist...


    Whit talks his role working for Ron DeSantis in 2018...and his take on the DeSantis 2024 presidential...


    Whit remembers the 1994 Bill Frist upset Senate win in Tennessee...


    Whit's take on the evolution of the GOP over the last decade...


    Whit on what makes for an effective pollster...


    Whit talks his time as active airplane pilot...


    AND academic towns, ballistic donors, Bob Barr, the Bernoulli Principle, bionic men, Brexit, Pat Buchanan, William Jennings Bryan, Checkpoint Charlie, Chris Christie, Bill Clinton, commuting marriages, Bob Corker, Steph Curry, Davidson College, Bob Dole, Mr. Enquist, flaming underdogs, Wyche Fowler, Cheryl Glenn, hail fellow well mets, Alex Haley, Nikki Haley, Tom Ingram, Dan Judy, Ted Kennedy, Rush Limbaugh, Huey Long, Dick Lugar, mainframe computers, Jon McHenry, Mike Murphy, Barack Obama, plaid work shirts, Adam Putnam, Dick Riley, Ronald Reagan, Jim Sasser, Floyd Spence, the Tea Party, totalitarian regimes, Donald Trump, two scrubs, Vanderbilt Hospital, George Wallace, Susie Wiles, Joe Wilson, & more!

    • 58 min
    Larry Huynh & His Unconventional Path as a Digital Trailblazer

    Larry Huynh & His Unconventional Path as a Digital Trailblazer

    Larry Huynh is a Partner and founder of Trilogy Interactive, a trailblazing digital political firm. His path to politics is anything but typical...his family coming to the U.S. as refugees after the Vietnam War, his academic background in biochemistry, and early career in the finance sector. In this conversation, Larry talks his unconventional route to working in politics, the 2004 campaign that changed his trajectory, early days of the political internet, plus some of his favorite case studies, best practices, and thoughts on digital trends that have the potential to change politics. 

    IN THIS EPISODE


    How Larry's family had to flee Vietnam after the fall of Saigon...


    Growing up a Texan in a low-income family in Houston...


    Larry talks his pre-political interest in biochemistry and work in the financial sector...


    The 2004 movement to Draft General Wes Clark into the presidential race pulls Larry into politics...


    Memories of meeting General Clark the first time and the 2004 Clark campaign...


    What contributed to the massive spike of online fundraising in the 2004 presidential campaign...


    Larry starts one of the first digital political firms after the 2004 elections...


    How Barbara Boxer's approach to Senate hearings blazed a path for effective use of digital political tools...


    Larry on current trends in digital politics...


    Larry talks studies his firm has done to better utilize AI...


    Larry's perspective on the right type of people who should pursue a career in digital politics...


    Larry talks his role as President of the AAPC and smart ways to utilize the organization...




    AND alchemy, Bank of America, Stacey Bashara, best laid plans, Brent Blackaby, Blackrock, Doug Boxer, Howard Dean, Fort Chaffee, genetically-modified seeds, hard science, Jeff Hauser, jacked-up arms, Paul Johnson, Rose Kapolczynski, John Kerry, kill lists, Blanche Lincoln, Terry McAuliffe, John McCain, Jason McIntosh, Katie Merrill, Monsanto, MoveOn, Eli Pariser, Condaleeza Rice, Diana Rogal, Josh Ross, Randy Stearns, vice principals, windowless rooms....& more!

    • 55 min
    Chancellor & Congressman Kent Hance, the Best Storyteller in Texas

    Chancellor & Congressman Kent Hance, the Best Storyteller in Texas

    Kent Hance served 6 years in the House from West Texas, was Chair of the Texas Railroad Commission, and had an 8-year tenure as Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System - but his most famous political accomplishment is as the only person to ever defeat George W. Bush in a political campaign. He also hosts his own podcast, The Best Storyteller in Texas, where he mines his favorite political stories and weighs in on the news of the day. In this conversation, Chancellor Kent Hance talks about his famous 1978 win over George W. Bush in an open-seat congressional...his preceding time in the Texas State Senate, his time in the House carrying landmark legislation for President Reagan, running statewide, helming a major public university system, memories of iconic political figures, and some of his best stories from 6+ decades in politics.


    IN THIS EPISODE...


    Growing up in rural West Texas...


    How the books his mother chose to read to him as a child led to a lifelong interest politics...


    A Kent Hance best-practice for avoiding troublemakers at town hall meetings...


    How he took on a West Texas political machine to beat a sitting State Senator in 1974...


    Chancellor Hance shares his memories of iconic Texas political figures John Connally, Lloyd Bentsen, and Ann Richards...


    Going in-depth about his good friend and former colleague, Congresswoman Charlie Wilson...


    How Kent Hance beat George W. Bush for Congress in an open seat race in 1978...


    The 1978 Hance campaign tactic that stuck with George W. Bush for 30+ years...


    Memories of sponsoring President Reagan's historic, controversial tax cut in the early 1980s.

    Highlighting a major difference in the leadership style of Presidents Reagan and Trump...


    Coming up short running for Senate in 1984...


    Demystifying what it's like serving on the Texas Railroad Commission...


    What led to becoming Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System...


    The curveball of the Texas Tech football coach he helped hire becoming now-US Senator Tommy Tuberville...


    AND $1.2 Billion, AT&T, Jodey Arrington, Coalter Baker, Jim Baker, bank charters, Choc Blanchard, Doc Blanchard, Laura Bush, The Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress, Barber Conable, dealmakers, Bob Dole, Ken Duberstein, Phil Gramm, hardcore Navy guys, Tommy Joe Harrison, hating Communists, Chic Hecht, Vic Henry, Bill Hobby, Lee Iacocca, Jack Kemp, LBJ, Little Britches, George Mahon, mail carriers, Wilbur Mills, Walter Mondale, the New England Journal of Medicine, Don Pease, Sam Rayburn, Walter Rogers, Dan Rostenkowski, Preston Smith, talking heads, trial lawyers, Donald Trump, Paul Weyrich, whipping the Russians, Clayton Williams, windfall profits tax...& more!

    • 43 min
    What Morgan Searcy Learned from 200+ Interviews with First-Time Political Staffers

    What Morgan Searcy Learned from 200+ Interviews with First-Time Political Staffers

    Morgan Searcy is a graphic designer whose work has supported some of the top brands in corporate America (Nike, MTV to name a few) and has also worked in campaigns for names like Warren and Ossoff. After the 2020 cycle, she embarked on a new project to capture and record experiences of first-time political staffers - a project that turned into the book One Year in Politics. In this work, she chronicles interviews with more than 220 first-time political staffers...with in-depth information about their motivations, challenges, concerns, aspirations, and more.

    IN THIS EPISODE

    Morgan's roots growing up as an Asian American in Huntsville, AL...


    What drew Morgan to politics from a largely non-political family...


    Morgan talks her background in graphic design and best practices for effective visuals...


    How Morgan transitioned from corporate design work to working in politics in the 2020 cycle...


    What led Morgan to tackle the project that turned into her book, "One Year in Politics"...


    Morgan's takeaways from 220+ interviews with first-time political staffers...


    Hurdles identified by first-time BIPOC staffers...


    What interviews from 2020 revealed about staffer experiences during the pandemic...


    The types of "burnout" first-time staffers report feeling...


    How first-time staffers' ideology compared to the candidate or cause for whom they worked...


    Morgan's advice to staffers early in the career...


    AND 5-Star hotels, all-hands meetings, art kids, bigger logos, Boeing, brand recognition, Emerge, EMILYs List, Google Forms, hierarchies of information, Jason Kander, NASA, Jon Ossoff, traditional job boards, video game designers, Werner Von Braun & more!

    • 37 min
    Jim Margolis, Founding Partner of Democratic Media Firm GMMB

    Jim Margolis, Founding Partner of Democratic Media Firm GMMB

    Jim Margolis, partner at GMMB media, is a pioneering Democratic media consultant who is featured in the new documentary, The Bigger Hammer, by filmmaker Keith Gaby that focuses on the message war behind the Obama vs. McCain 2008 race (now available on Amazon). In this conversation, Jim talks his path to politics through student activism in Kalamazoo, managing House campaigns, and working on the Hill before partnering with Frank Greer to start GMMB. He also goes in depth on his work for the Obama Presidential campaigns and shares some of his favorite stories and spots from a career atop the world of political media.
    IN THIS EPISODE

    Jim's early entry into politics as a high schooler in Kalamazoo, MI...


    Why a narrow loss in one of the first races he worked was "the best thing that ever happened" to him...


    Jim talks the important role Congressman Howard Wolpe played in his development...


    Lessons learned from his early days as a campaign manager and Hill Chief...


    A one-of-a-kind story from Kent Conrad's upset 1986 Senate win in North Dakota...


    How his partnership with Frank Greer started and Jim's early days as an ad-maker...


    A deep dive into Jim's role spearheading media on the Obama '08 presidential campaign...


    Why Jim had the '08 Democratic Convention stage dramatically changed at the last minute...


    Jim's 101 on producing political conventions...


    Jim on working for two of his most prominent Senate clients, Barbara Boxer and Harry Reid...


    What got Jim in Harry Reid's doghouse for a couple of weeks...


    Jim talks the evolution of his firm GMMB over the years...


    Jim breaks down the art of political ad-buying...


    Jim's advice to the next generation of political media consultants...


    AND 3/10/83, Brock Adams, Africanists, Mark Andrews, David Axelrod, blue suits, Quentin Burdick, the Chicago Tribune, Cinderella years, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, crazy hats, Fred Davis, disease implications, Byron Dorgan, ending apartheid, extra chips, fancy Florida hotels, Dianne Feinstein, Fort Defiance, Wyche Fowler, game show sets, good ears, Larry Grisolano, herculean tasks, Anita Hill, Paris Hilton, Invesco Stadium, John Kerry, Jim Messina, Michigan State University, Walter Mondale, Robby Mook, mosquito nets, Navajo reservations, David Plouffe, punch cards, Bernie Sanders, tax commissioners, Western Michigan University...& more!

    • 54 min
    Pro Politics Podcast Update: New Episodes Coming Soon

    Pro Politics Podcast Update: New Episodes Coming Soon

    Listen to a brief update about the Pro Politics Podcast, with the upshot that you should stay tuned for new episodes coming soon. For any feedback, feel free to drop me a line at mccrary.zachary(at)gmail.com. Thanks for listening.

    • 1 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
68 Ratings

68 Ratings

Derek Humphrey (CA) ,

I’m so glad this exists.

The fact that a podcast featuring interviews with Saul Shorr, Gale Kaufman, and Fred Davis exists is life-affirming. This is the only podcast I listen to.

alex00000009 ,

Best Way To Learn About Political Campaigns

For anyone and everyone who wants to do a political campaign, this is a great resource on the ins

Name Here Fool ,

Valuable Insights

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