7 Podcasts That'll Keep You Up To Speed On The 2020 Election

You don't want to miss a moment.

by Caroline Burke and Mia Mercado
Originally Published: 
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After what likely has felt like a decade of slow building, the race for the next presidential election is finally here. With the general election taking place in less than a week, now is the time to stock up your knowledge arsenal with podcasts to help you follow the 2020 election. Collecting a good batch of audio resources to clarify the political narratives taking place will actually save you time in the long run, and it might just make the process bearable, or at the very least, easier to understand.

The 2020 presidential election may have only had one Republican front-runner, but it's been a barnburner of a competition. The campaign trail has seen over a dozen serious Democratic contenders vie for the nomination, a presidential impeachment trial take place, and more. Though we're mere days away from election day, there's still plenty of time for more confusion to arise. With COVID-19 impacting the 2020 election and the onslaught of news on any given day, it can feel borderline impossible to keep track of it all, or even to know what you should be tracking to begin with. For that reason, it helps to pick a podcast tailored to your own specific learning or consumption style. Whether you like your politics with a dose of humor or with a roundtable of hard-hitting, stone-faced journalists, there's a podcast out there for you — and it likely comes out frequently enough to keep you satiated.

Here are some of the best political podcasts to keep you up to date on the 2020 election:


'Pod Save America'

Pod Save America bills itself as a "no-bullsh*t conversation about politics" and is hosted by four former Obama aides: Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer, and Tommy Vietor. It's one of many politics-related series under the umbrella of the hosts' political media company, Crooked Media. Other popular political podcasts from Crooked include Pod Save the World, which focuses on foreign policy, and The Wilderness, which is mentioned below.

"I’ve always been into politics but these guys help me stay informed while also making me laugh," one listener wrote in a review on Apple Podcasts. "I genuinely enjoy listening to their takes on what’s going on and find their content extremely streamlined."

For Pod Save America, you can expect new, hour-long episodes to come out every Monday and Thursday, with special exception episodes coming out for relevant events like the Iowa caucuses, the midterms, and, of course, the 2020 presidential election results. You can also expect regular appearances by journalists, politicians, world leaders, and more.


FiveThirtyEight's 'Politics'

FiveThirtyEight's Politics podcast approaches American political elections like the midterms and the 2020 election from the analytical perspective famously championed by FiveThirtyEight founder Nate Silver. The podcast uses a wide range of statistical evidence (from betting odds to polling numbers to tracking the number of endorsements that any one candidate receives) to provide as much information as possible about what's going on in the American political landscape, and why.

One listener described this podcast as providing "superior political data to help me better understand and influence in an ever increasing polarized world." That user added in an Apple review, "Plus [it's] presented with an engaging sense of humor."

Episodes for FiveThirtyEight's Politics come out every other day, usually, and sometimes as often as twice in one day, depending on what's going on in the world, politically.


Vox's 'The Weeds'

The Weeds is a podcast run by Vox that focuses on "politics and policy discussion." The central host is Matthew Yglesias, but other Vox voices appear frequently on the podcast as well, including Ezra Klein, Dara Lind, and Jane Coaston.

As you might have deduced from the name, this podcast tries to get "into the weeds," aka into the nitty-gritty specifics, of one or two issues for any given episode. One listener wrote about the podcast, "I look forward to this ... pod more than any other. It’s clear that Ezra, Matt, Jane, etc put a lot of effort into making this more than the typical 'talk about the news for an hour' experience."

Episodes cover topics like paid family leave, anti-Semitism, the debate over free college, and more. You can expect a new, hour-long episode every Tuesday and Friday.


'Political Gabfest'

Political Gabfest is a podcast run by Slate, and was voted Favorite Political Podcast by listeners on Apple Podcasts. The show bills itself as a podcast "where sharp political analysis meets informal and irreverent discussion." It's hosted by Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz, and comes out once a week on Thursdays.

One listener wrote about the show in a review, "The format is fantastic for learning about a new issue or understanding a current event from a different perspective. Everyone on the show is interesting and insightful. Not to mention candid and funny! The cocktail chatter is always fun and a great way to end the show."


'The Wilderness'

Like Pod Save America, The Wilderness is a Crooked Media podcast. However, it's focused less on the 2020 campaign, exclusively, and more on the history and future of the Democratic Party. The show is hosted by Pod Save America co-host Jon Favreau, and is different from other political podcasts in that it's released in seasons, rather than every week or few days. Though Season 1 ended in September 2018, Season 2 was released January 2020.

"The information provided in season 1&2 have provided in-depth history on victories and defeats and how we hope to grow as a party," one listener wrote in a review. So, if you're looking for a listen that's equal parts history breakdown and current events analysis, this is the show for you.


NPR's 'Politics'

The NPR Politics Podcast is a great option for people who can't get enough pod time, because a new episode comes out every single day, sometimes several times a day. The show is run by a variety of NPR reporters, who aim to tell you "what happened" and "why it matters," per the podcast's bio.

"This podcast is, by far, my favorite political podcast," a listener wrote about the show. "When the subject material of late has been so depressing, the humor [the hosts] bring to the reporting is incredibly refreshing. I look forward to the 'can’t let it go' segment every episode."

Episode length tends to range wildly for this podcast, with some episodes clocking in at around 15 minutes, and others lasting three times as long.


KCRW's 'Left, Right, And Center'

If you're looking for opposing political perspectives in your podcast search, then Left, Right, and Center might be the political podcast for you. The show is run by KCRW, and describes itself as a "weekly civilized yet provocative confrontation over politics, policy, and pop culture." Host Josh Barro serves as a voice representing the "center," and he invites thought leaders representing the "left" and the "right" on the political spectrum for each episode.

"As someone sick and tired of one-sided party sounding board shows i [sic] truly enjoy Left, Right & Center," one listener wrote of the podcast in a review. "They seem to be able to provide a show that presents today's issues in a fashion that equitably provides views from both sides of the aisle, and then some."

The podcast has technically been a radio show since 1996. You can expect a new, hour-long episode every Friday.

Of course, you don't have to listen to just one podcast. It might even benefit you to subscribe to multiple so that you're hearing about political events from various perspectives.

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