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
2:36 pm
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.

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Political Junkie
6:08 am
Mon December 24, 2012

Remembering Those Who Left Us In 2012

Ken Rudin collection

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 2:43 pm

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.

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Political Junkie
6:33 am
Mon November 26, 2012

The Tragedy Of The Demise Of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned his House seat last Wednesday amid health and ethics concerns.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 7:20 pm

It is always sad to watch a once-highly regarded public official, with seemingly unlimited potential, self-destruct. It's even sadder when that person offering so much hope represented a congressional district that has long been suffering economically, that desperately needed advocates on its behalf, and where the two previous incumbents left a trail of shame.

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Political Junkie
6:33 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 7:23 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.

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Political Junkie
6:33 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 7:38 am

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

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Political Junkie
6:33 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 8:02 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.

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Political Junkie
11:13 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 12:34 pm

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).

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Political Junkie
6:48 am
Tue October 9, 2012

Is The V.P. Debate A Sideshow Or Something More?

Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) shakes hands with Sen. Dan Quayle (R-Ind.) before their vice presidential debate at the Omaha Civic Auditorium in Omaha, Neb., on Oct. 5, 1988.
Ron Edmonds AP

Originally published on Tue October 23, 2012 10:28 am

The reviews are in and, agree with them or not, most people thought Mitt Romney bested Barack Obama in Wednesday's presidential debate. The two don't meet again until Oct. 16, but in the meantime, there will be the vice-presidential face-off this Thursday.

How much pressure is riding on Vice President Joe Biden and Republican challenger Paul Ryan?

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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

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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