With an anticipated record spend coming for the midterm cycle, new and old firms alike are poised for growth — with the right strategy. Wondering what your competitors are up to? They may be talking about their formula, or at least a part of it on an industry podcast.
As the 2022 midterms near, we asked a bunch of consultants what podcasts they are listening to weekly. If any of the ones below aren’t already on your list, they’re worth it for those looking to learn something new, whether related to business or strategy, from their fellow practitioners.
Democratic pollster Zac McCrary, a partner at ALG Research, now has some 50 episodes available for download featuring a mix of practitioners, politicians and reporters. Want to hear Bearstar Strategies’ Ace Smith talk about oppo research? There’s an episode for that. Curious about how media consultant Mark Putnam puts an ad together? McCrary talked to him, too. He’s even reached across the aisle to speak with GOP pollster Patrick Ruffini about the evolution of political technology since 2004.
This is a podcast in the same vein as “Pro Politics,” albeit with its own personality thanks to host David Mowery, a C&E contributor and Alabama-based consultant. Mowery has chalked up close to 100 episodes since the podcast first dropped back in 2020. He features some Southern political figures and reporters that you won’t find elsewhere, but also insightful interviews with consultants, including one conducted with the late Democratic ad maker Joe Slade White shortly before his passing.
As the name suggests, this offering, hosted by Republican digital strategist Eric Wilson, examines the business side of the political industry. At its core, this pod lives up to its name and is an essential listen for political entrepreneurs — particularly those with technology startups. Wilson, managing partner of the Republican political tech incubator Startup Caucus, focuses his interviews largely on Republican entrepreneurs, investors, and firm owners with topics like talent recruitment, M&A, and tips for building stronger businesses.
Hosted by Twitter personality Comfortably Smug, and Cavalry’s Josh Holmes and Michael Duncan, this podcast is more “variety program” than industry chat show. Listeners will hear more about atmospherics and the news of the day than the consulting industry in general. But it’s a must-listen for many practitioners on the right and occasionally features politicians including former VP Mike Pence. The team behind Ruthless have dropped more than 160 episodes going back to 2020.
For entrepreneurs in progressive politics, this has become a must-listen podcast with more than 500 episodes dating back to 2017. Launched with the goal of shining a light on the so-called “resistance” to President Trump, NGP founder Nathaniel Pearlman interviews everyone from the founders of political technology startups like Michael Luciani and Shola Farber of The Tuesday Company, to grassroots organizers like Matt Hildreth. But Pearlman also sits down with business leaders like the CEO of digital shop Rising Tide Interactive, Stephanie Grasmick, who talked about her career, the death of the cookie, managing 45 people and the importance of targeting in a wave year.
Cygnal CEO Brent Buchanan is an aficionado of podcasts, particularly those with a business focus, so it’s no surprise that his research firm would have its own show. While the Cygnal Pulse Pod focuses primarily on polling and showcases the analysis of the firm’s top survey researchers, it also includes occasional special guests. For instance, a recent episode (#32) featured Content Creative Media’s Nick Everhart talking about finding the right tone in messaging around COVID.
Digital Politics Podcast with Karen Jagoda
This podcast is one of the industry’s longest running having launched back in 2007. Behoving its OG status, it features perhaps the most eclectic set of guest (“political consultants, media strategists, journalists, advocates, candidates, elected officials, campaign managers, and solution providers”). It’s great for anyone interested in a left-perspective on new tech, digital strategy or legal issues that could impact campaigns and groups.
This recommendation comes from C&E columnist Colin Delany, who’s an avid listener. It’s a pod produced by the American Constitution Society and features discussions, as you would expect, on hot legal topics. Even if your work doesn’t overlap with the topics of the episodes (“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the Senate Confirmation Process”), it’ll be good fodder for your next Zoom happy hour.
This pod from Arena, the progressive training organization, only produced 10 episodes back in 2020, but they’re all on worthy topics — including the “bonus” episode they released post Election Day on self-care. For anyone who’s looking for an audio version of Arena’s Academy and its toolkit to help candidate and practitioners, these are worth a listen.
The Bulwark’s podcast, which is hosted by the outlet’s publisher, Sarah Longwell, is back this week with an episode featuring long-time media consultant Mark McKinnon on the Texas primaries. The show regularly features practitioners, including David Shor of Blue Rose Research, as well as pundits like Amy Walter. It’s a pod that doesn’t have a deep catalog — it’s only on its eighth episode — but definitely one worth keeping an ear on as 2022 goes on.
This podcast shouldn’t be new to anyone reading this list, but it feels like a list of political podcasts wouldn’t really be complete without this popularly liberal offering from the practitioners who made their names working for President Obama. Like Ruthless, this podcast is more about atmospherics than political strategy. That said, it does feature office holders like Stacey Abrams and practitioners like Jen Psaki, but those guests are spaced out.