Four Oregon-Made Politics Podcasts to Stream Before Election Day

From rational Republicans to the ins-and-outs of voting, there’s a pod for every politics junkie out there.

By Julia Silverman October 24, 2020

So, you’ve already voted, and taken your selfie at the ballot drop box, and maybe you’ve even text-banked and written letters to voters in swing states, and you’re still on pins and needles about the upcoming Election Day—what’s a politics junkie to do? 

We suggest tuning in to these locally-made Oregon politics podcasts, featuring everyone from die-hard progressives to self-described “rational Republicans.” Diving into the back catalogues may help fill the days until the election returns start rolling in on November 3 (and, if dire forecasts are to be believed, continue in the following days, as the country slowly descends into Electoral College madness.) Stream/download them all via the podcasting app of your preference. 

Voting Now: Turning Rights Into Reality 

The Lowdown: The newest entry on our list, this five-episode collaboration between the Oregon chapter of the Federal Bar Association and the Oregon Historical Society, seeks to connect the dots between the fight for women’s suffrage 100 years ago, and the systemic barrier to voting that persist today. 

Hosts: A rotating cast of knowledgeable Oregon lawyers, who’ve in turn tapped their networks to pull in a truly impressive and interesting roster of guests, from decorated journalist and historian Elaine Weiss to firebrand Samantha Gladu, currently running Next Up Oregon, which works to expand voting access to all, especially the young. 

Target audience: Policy wonks, history buffs and anyone who wants to go beyond the noise and dig deep (in manageable 25 or 30 minute segments). 

Key episode: Hard to pick, but the most topical is probably Episode 6, featuring a face-off between two behemoth political strategists from Oregon, Kevin Looper from the left and Dan Lavey from the right. They might not agree on much, but they’re united over their distaste for voter suppression. 

End Times Pep Talk 

The Lowdown: Hard to beat their own description—a feminist fireside chat—that tends toward the topical, whether it’s life after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, stories from the front lines of the Black Lives Matter protests in Portland, or the most recent get-out-the-vote-goddammit episode. 

Hosts: Smitha Chadaga, a Portland physician and one of PoMo’s Oregon Women 2020 honorees, and Rebecca Cohen and Megan Cleland, organizers with Indivisible Oregon, a progressive activist group formed in the wake of Donald Trump’s 2016 victory.  

Target audience: Rage moms who don’t mind f-bombs in their feed, and the people that love them. 

Key episode: An excellent entry point is Episode 105, “Activisting” which is a straightforward primer for the would-be organizer/call-to-action to get off the sidelines, already. 

The Rational Republican 

The Lowdown: An endangered species/unicorn of a pod, this is a long way from the Rush Limbaugh-verse. Instead, it features its two Republican-leaning hosts talking civilly, dare we say constructively, with both those who tend to agree with them, and those who don’t.  

Hosts: The young creators, James Ball and Nick Prelosky, are both active in Republican Party politics in Oregon, but not fans of the Q-Anon narrative that has captivated the extremist wing of the GOP.  

Target audience: Romney Republicans, and anyone who has ever voted for fence-straddling State Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose. 

Key episode: Maybe it is recency bias, but the October 16 chat between Ball, running a pie-in-the-sky campaign for a Oregon House seat in deep blue Portland and Democrat Sean Scorvo, who is challenging an incumbent Republican in an rural Willamette Valley district, tugged at our heartstrings. If only Trump vs. Biden sounded this sane. 

OPB Politics Now

The Lowdown: You’ve heard them on your car radio, now stream the local NPR affiliate’s team of political reporters as they gather round each week to dissect the latest news from Salem to Portland’s City Hall. This is a good place to go for those who’ve read the headlines and are wondering, “But, but....what does it all mean?” 

Hosts: It varies, but you’ll often hear the conversation being steered by the reassuring tones of Geoff Norcross, the station’s “Morning Edition” host and the earliest-rising journalist in Portland.  

Target audience: Do you have an OPB tote bag, mug and bumper sticker? Or do you work for a politician? This one’s for you. 

Key episode: We’d say the most recent, since this podcast is so topical, but those who haven’t yet gotten around to filling out their ballots (what are you waiting for?) should queue up the October 15 episode, in which reporters knowledgeably break down the ins and outs of the choices facing local voters. 

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