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.

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Political Junkie
6:48 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Will The Debates Determine The Outcome? History Says It's Debatable

Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 3:20 pm

The candidates have gone through the primaries and caucuses, the delegate counts and the conventions. At this point, they're traveling the country, trying to make their case. Now comes the most widely anticipated event in the race for the White House: the presidential debates.

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Political Junkie
6:27 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

As Polls Show Romney Trailing In Swing States, Obama Edges Towards 270 Goal

It's true that Mitt Romney trails President Obama in most key battleground states, but the margins are in single digits
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 5:04 pm

The election is not over, we are told time and time again, and it's not. There are still some 40-plus days to go, there are still debates to be had. It's true that Mitt Romney trails President Obama in most key battleground states, but the margins are in single digits. And, lest we forget, it's not that presidential candidates down in the polls haven't come from behind to win in the past.

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Political Junkie
6:48 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 12:23 pm

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.

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Political Junkie
7:39 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Obama Got The Convention Bounce, As Well As Bad Economic Numbers

President Barack Obama joins Former President Bill Clinton on stage during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Mon September 10, 2012 3:06 pm

  • my chat with Linda Wertheimer

The Democrats were no sooner out of Charlotte when the bad economic news came.

A more disappointing job report than had been forecast. Economic numbers weaker than expected. Just 96,000 jobs were created in August, far fewer than what economists were anticipating. And even a lower unemployment rate — down to 8.1 percent from 8.3 — was explained as that more people had simply stopped looking for work. The hope of four years ago is quickly becoming a fading memory, especially for those whose lives have not seen the change Barack Obama once promised.

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Political Junkie
6:48 am
Tue September 4, 2012

Memorable Moments From Democratic Conventions Of The Past

V ice President Joe Biden, left, and President Obama embrace following Biden's vice-presidential nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2008.
Paul Sancya AP

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 10:31 am

Perhaps, when they think back to the Republican convention of 2012, it will be Clint Eastwood and his friend, the chair, that people will remember most.

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Political Junkie
6:46 am
Mon August 27, 2012

From Goldwater To Palin: Memorable GOP Convention Moments Of The Past

Eventually it will be too late for Todd Akin to leave the Missouri Senate race and be replaced by a stronger candidate. But N.J. Democrats managed a similar feat with a Lautenberg-for-Torricelli switch after the deadline in 2002.
Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 10:28 am

The Republicans hold their national convention in Tampa this week, Tropical Storm Isaac permitting, and it will culminate in the nominations of Mitt Romney for president and Paul Ryan for vice president.

Next week it will be the Democrats' turn, in Charlotte, N.C., and the renomination of President Obama and Vice President Biden.

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Political Junkie
7:31 am
Mon August 13, 2012

Paul Ryan: Bold Move By Romney, More Ammo For Democrats, Or Both?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (right) and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin greet supporters during a homecoming campaign rally Sunday in Waukesha, Wis.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Mon August 13, 2012 6:07 pm

It was almost as if everyone dared Mitt Romney to make a bold move.

He couldn't possibly pick Ohio Sen. Rob Portman or former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty as his running mate, could he? Too boring, the critics said! Too white bread! Too uninspiring! The cover of Newsweek talked about Romney's "wimp factor." Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert — not that he played a leading role here — described a Romney-Portman ticket as "like the bland leading the bland."

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Election 2012
8:37 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 1:32 pm

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

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Election 2012
8:29 am
Sat August 11, 2012

5 Vice Presidential Picks Who Were Key To Victory

Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Sat August 11, 2012 11:09 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)

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Political Junkie
6:48 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 10:56 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.

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