Ken Rudin

Ken Rudin is NPR's Political Junkie. For most of the past 20 years, Rudin has been the eyes and ears of political coverage as political editor. Rudin focuses on all aspects of politics, from presidential elections with the primaries, national conventions, debates and general election, to the races for the House, Senate and state governors. He has analyzed every congressional race in the nation since 1984.

In 2011, Rudin added to his duties by becoming part of the network's StateImpact project. This local-national journalism initiative will add editorial resources and reporters to NPR member stations in all 50 states, to better inform the public about the impact that the actions of state governments has on citizens and communities. Rudin mentors and advises these reporters on covering the effects politics and politicians have on people.

In addition to his role with StateImpact, Rudin continues to contribute NPR's political coverage. Every Wednesday, he can be heard on Talk of the Nation in the "Political Junkie" segment. In his "Political Junkie" weekly column on NPR.org, Rudin previews the politics of the week, and delves into campaign history, strategy and trivia, including the popular ScuttleButton contest.

Rudin was a key player on the NPR team that won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton award for excellence in broadcast journalism in 2002 for coverage of campaign finance.

From 1983 through 1991, Rudin worked at ABC News, serving first as deputy political director and later as the off-air Capitol Hill reporter covering the House. He first joined NPR in 1991, as its first political editor. Rudin returned to NPR in 1998, after a three-year absence during which he was the managing editor of the Hotline, a daily political newsletter. He also wrote the "Political Graffiti" column for The Hill, a newspaper covering Capitol Hill.

A political junkie for many decades, Rudin has one of the most extensive collections of campaign buttons in the country, a collection that now surpasses 70,000 items. Rudin is a graduate of Pace University in New York.

Political Junkie
11:36 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Why Don't We Pay (More/Any) Attention To Los Angeles Mayoral Elections?

Los Angeles mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel.
AP

Horace Greeley may have suggested at one point that going west might be a good idea, but he probably wouldn't be happy to see what's going on with Los Angeles as of late. The Dodgers are in last place in the National League West, the Angels are hovering near the bottom of the American League West, and the Lakers' appearance in the playoffs was brutally short. Even Jimmy Fallon and NBC are bringing The Tonight Show back to Manhattan, deserting some place called Burbank after 40 years.

Read more
Political Junkie
6:21 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Is It 2016 Yet? Moves By Hillary Clinton & Rand Paul Suggest Yes

Recent policy announcements by Clinton and Paul have convinced many that they are all about the 2016 presidential campaign.
Saul Loeb/AFP/ Getty Images and Charles Dharapak/AP NPR

Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 12:42 pm

If you have any interest in politics at all, you pretty much know two things. One, that the next presidential election, on Nov. 8, 2016, is only 1,324 days away. And two, you won't be surprised if people are focusing on it in March of 2013.

Sometimes the speculation is silly, but sometimes it's not. Judging from what we've seen and heard from Hillary Clinton and Rand Paul, the speculation may be on target.

Read more
Political Junkie
3:18 am
Mon January 7, 2013

John Boehner Has Been Up And Down And Up Again. Where Is He Now?

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio bangs the gavel after being re-elected as House Speaker of the 113th Congress on Thursday on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 11:41 am

As John Boehner finally got the votes to put him over the top, and his re-election as Speaker of the House became official, one had to wonder what was going on in his mind.

Read more
Political Junkie
3:08 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Remembering Those Who Left Us In 2012

Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 11:43 am

In political terms, 2012 was not the greatest of years. We witnessed an ugly, personal, petty, and often childish presidential election. Living in a "battleground" or "swing" state often meant being bombarded 24/7 by an incessant barrage of negative campaign commercials. And just as we were finally emerging from the campaign, we ended the year with an unfathomable tragedy, the gunning down of 20 children at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Read more
Political Junkie
3:33 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Both Sides Itching For A Confirmation Fight Over Susan Rice

Some Republicans are betting that President Obama won't push for a Susan Rice nomination if it could jeopardize negotiations with the GOP on things like the budget, or immigration.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 4:23 pm

The election was over. As President Obama faced the press in the East Room of the White House on Wednesday, the anger and bitterness of his long battle with Mitt Romney seemed to have faded. Unlike President George W. Bush after his 2004 re-election — and his comments about having political capital and intending to spend it — Obama seemed a bit more humble victor, talking more about compromise and saying he was willing to hear other points of view to solve the nation's problems.

Read more
Political Junkie
3:33 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Who Gets The Blame For The Romney Loss? The Tea Party Has A Theory.

Tea Party favorites: Bachmann (Minn.) barely survived; Mourdock (Ind.) lost a previously safe GOP seat; West (Fla.) refuses to concede.
Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 4:38 am

It was an election that, once upon a time, many thought was stacked in Mitt Romney's favor.

Read more
Political Junkie
6:08 am
Mon November 5, 2012

What To Look For On Election Day: The Battle For The White House & Congress

A voter reads her ballot as she prepares to cast her vote during the last day of early voting in Miami on Nov. 3.
Alan Diaz AP

Originally published on Tue November 6, 2012 5:02 am

Tuesday, as those who follow politics probably know, is Election Day. The battle between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney has been contentious, expensive, personal, illuminating, ugly, frustrating, petty, enlightening and, above all, long. And it is expected to be close.

This week's Political Junkie column is an attempt to guide you to what's at stake on Tuesday, both in the contest for the White House as well as the 33 Senate and 435 House seats on the ballot.

Read more
Political Junkie
9:41 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Republicans On Path To Retaining Control Of The House

A bicyclist rides through the plaza on the east side of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sun November 4, 2012 9:34 am

The 2010 elections, in which Republicans had a net gain of 63 seats in the House, was one for the record books. It was the most impressive showing by the GOP since 1938, when their net House pick up was 80 seats, and the best showing by any party in the House since 1948, when the Democrats added 75 seats. The sweep of two years ago more than wiped out the gains made by the Democrats in the House of 2006 (31 seats) and 2008 (20 more).

Read more
Political Junkie
7:33 am
Mon September 17, 2012

Numbers Favor Republicans But Path To Senate Majority Is Still Iffy

Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon celebrates her win in the Connecticut primary over Chris Shays.
Jessica Hill AP

Originally published on Mon September 17, 2012 9:23 am

Two years ago, I asked Texas Sen. John Cornyn, then (and still) the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), if the GOP was going to win enough seats to take back the majority it lost in 2006.

Read more
Election 2012
5:37 am
Sat August 11, 2012

Running Mate Scorecard: Ups And Downs Since 1964

GOP presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, his running mate, George Bush, and their wives, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush, wave from the podium at the 1980 Republican National Convention in Detroit on July 17. In picking Bush, Reagan created a ticket that unified the party.
AP

Originally published on Sun August 12, 2012 10:32 am

It will be a while before we know if presidential candidate Mitt Romney's pick of Rep. Paul Ryan to join the Republican ticket will be a plus or minus for his campaign.

In my view, not since Jack Kennedy picked Lyndon Johnson has the choice of a running mate truly affected the outcome in November. LBJ did, after all, help bring Texas to the Democratic fold in 1960. But the record for subsequent No. 2s is a bit mixed. Here's my scorecard:

1964

Read more
Election 2012
5:29 am
Sat August 11, 2012

5 Vice Presidential Picks Who Were Key To Victory

Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Sat August 11, 2012 8:09 am

There have been a number of instances in recent history where the choice of a vice presidential running mate was an important stepping stone toward winning in the fall.

Of course, it's much too early to know how much of a difference GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's choice of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan will make. In the meantime, here is my subjective list of the top five instances in the past half-century or so where a selection of a running mate was crucial to victory:

1. 1960: John Kennedy-Lyndon Johnson (D)

Read more
Political Junkie
3:48 am
Mon August 6, 2012

The United States Of America ... All Ten Of Them

For Romney to win the election, he is going to have to pick off some big states from Obama's 2008 tally.
AP

Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 7:56 am

In 92 days, we will either re-elect President Obama or replace him with his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. On paper, at least, voters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia will make that decision.

But if you look at the travel schedules and campaign budgets of Obama and Romney, it's clear that the 2012 election will be decided in only ten or fewer states.

Read more