Ron Elving

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.

He was previously the political editor for USA Today and for Congressional Quarterly. He has been a Distinguished Visiting Professional in Residence at American University, where he is now an adjunct professor. In this role, Elving received American University's 2016 University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment. He has also taught at George Mason and Georgetown University.

He has been published by the Brookings Institution and the American Political Science Association. He has contributed chapters on Obama and the media and on the media role in Congress to the academic studies Obama in Office 2011, and Rivals for Power, 2013. Ron's earlier book, Conflict and Compromise: How Congress Makes the Law, was published by Simon & Schuster and is also a Touchstone paperback.

During his tenure as the manager of NPR's Washington coverage, NPR reporters were awarded every major recognition available in radio journalism, including the Dirksen Award for Congressional Reporting and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

In 2008, the American Political Science Association awarded NPR the Carey McWilliams Award "in recognition of a major contribution to the understanding of political science."

Ron came to Washington in 1984 as a Congressional Fellow with the American Political Science Association and worked for two years as a staff member in the House and Senate. Previously, he had been state capital bureau chief for The Milwaukee Journal.

He received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University and master's degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of California – Berkeley.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

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And in our studio, NPR's senior Washington editor Ron Elving. Every couple of years, here we are around this time trying to figure out who has been elected to what. Tonight, what are you looking for? What are the important signs you're looking for in the numbers as they come in?

The latest and last NPR Battleground Poll for 2012 shows former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney holding the narrowest of leads in the national sample, but trailing President Obama in the dozen states that will decide the election.

The poll adds evidence that the Oct. 3 debate between the two men redefined the race. But the movement toward Romney that emerged after that night in Denver also seems to have stalled after the race drew even — leaving the outcome difficult to call.

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Most polls in the presidential race show the national popular vote to be a virtual tie. But as we know, the popular does not pick the president. That's the job of the Electoral College. And some election number crunchers are starting to explore the nightmare scenario of an Electoral College tie. It's a remote possibility, but a possibility nonetheless.

In his third debate with President Obama, Mitt Romney dialed up "cool and cautious" on his mood meter. And that tells you a great deal about where this presidential race stands with two weeks to go.

If George McGovern often seemed miscast as a presidential candidate, he was at least as improbable as an icon of the anti-war movement.

The Vietnam War gave birth to an opposition movement unlike any America had seen in its previous wars. It was young, unconventional and countercultural, defiant of authority and deeply suspicious of government.

McGovern himself was none of these things.

President Obama beat at least one of his adversaries on the stage at Hofstra University last night. He easily outperformed that guy — whoever he was — who debated against former Gov. Mitt Romney two weeks ago in Denver.

That much was obvious — and necessary for the president. The question now is whether it will be sufficient to restore his momentum in the race itself.

You may have noticed that the vice presidential debate took place on the same day as four crucial games in this year's baseball playoffs. In case you were distracted at all by the latter, here's some of what you may have missed:

In case anyone was wondering, this week's presidential debate demonstrated why incumbent presidents and others leading in the polls used to refuse to debate their challengers.

After John F. Kennedy used the first TV debates to boost his campaign against incumbent Vice President Richard Nixon in 1960, there simply were no debates until 1976. Running again with a big lead in 1968 and 1972, Nixon declined to debate and won both times. Lyndon B. Johnson also demurred in 1964 without damage en route to a landslide.

Early in his acceptance speech last night, President Obama laid out the voters' task in these words:

"On every issue, the choice you face won't be just between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice ... between two fundamentally different visions for the future."

Party platforms are like contracts: No one bothers to read them until something bad happens.

We all know that parties to any agreement should study the fine print in advance, and surely that applies to the national political parties. The delegates really ought to spend some of their time in the host city studying the document they are voting to adopt.

But hey, it's a convention. It's a party. Who wants to sit in their hotel room and read?

Bill Clinton will add yet another chapter to his storied career tonight when the former president places in nomination the name of the current president, Barack Obama.

It will be the focal point of the evening and for some, perhaps, the most newsworthy moment of the entire convention. The old Clinton-Obama feud remains an endless source of political gossip, and the convention planners are happy to have the former president's supposedly unedited and unvetted remarks as a rare source of suspense. Maybe it will help the ratings.

The 2012 Republican National Convention may have been the first gathering of its kind to take its theme from a gaffe.

The second night of the Republican convention was an orchestrated buildup for Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan.

Ryan emerged at the evening's end to deliver the payoff speech and introduce himself to a national audience. He did a rousing job of it, delivering the session's most memorable material with stark intensity.

In case you missed it, the theme here in Tampa at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday was: "We Built It." Intended as a reference to building a business, the three words also suggested another construction project under way — a bridge to female voters.

When the Republican National Convention finally gets underway today here in Tampa, it will renew a civil war that's been raging — off and on — for more than a century.

Political conventions are famed for focusing the nation's attention on one name, but at this year's Republican National Convention here in Tampa, that name is not the nominee's.

You may already have made a mental note as to where you were when you heard the Supreme Court had upheld the health care law known as Obamacare. It's one of those moments that become touchstones of our memory, personal connections to the history we have witnessed in our lifetimes.

The Supreme Court may not be the source of such moments very often, but when its rulings reach this level of our awareness, they alter the course of our lives.

For weeks now, we in the news business have been telling you how much the Scott Walker recall election in Wisconsin matters to the country as a whole.

Gov. Scott Walker beat back a recall attempt in Wisconsin on Tuesday by doing what he had to do: turning out huge majorities in the Republican enclaves of the state — especially in its eastern half near Lake Michigan.

In the end, Walker wound up with about 53 percent of the vote, about 1 percentage point better than he had in winning the governorship the first time in November 2010.

Wisconsin votes on recalling its governor Tuesday, and much has already been made of that vote's potential implications beyond the state.

But for now, this historic moment belongs to the 3 million-plus Wisconsinites registered to vote. Most of them are expected to turn out, and those who do will be thinking about the implications for Wisconsin more than the prospects for fallout elsewhere.

The latest variant of the presidential election parlor game we call "What Were They Thinking?" asks why Mitt Romney chose this moment in his quest for the White House to become involved with Donald Trump.

Here's a contrarian guess by way of an answer: populism. Bear with me for a moment of explanation.

Back before the conflagration that was World War II, some of Europe's great powers engaged in a surrogate struggle by arming the warring factions in the Spanish Civil War. It was a great way to test their latest weapons and tactics.

Here in our country and in our time, the role of Spain is being played by the state of Wisconsin, where a political civil war has raged for nearly 18 months — presaging the fierce national politics of this presidential year.

Watch Wisconsin over the next four weeks, and you will see where we are headed as a nation in the months ahead.

Most of us Americans find it hard to watch any sort of a competition without a scoreboard. And when the prize is the White House, the desire to know who's winning gets overwhelming.

That's why, now that Mitt Romney has all but wrapped up the Republican nomination for president, nearly every day brings a new national poll predicting the popular vote results in November.

Or purporting to do so.

It is time for the much-winnowed field of Republican presidential contenders to shrink a little further. It is time for Newt Gingrich to bid adieu and wrap up his bid for the nomination.

Rick Santorum, who won the Alabama and Mississippi primaries on Tuesday, has proven himself the conservatives' favored alternative to front-runner Mitt Romney. He did this by winning the voters who mattered most in the deep-dyed red states of Alabama and Mississippi, the white evangelical "born again" voters who cast more than two-thirds of the vote in each state.

This year's State of the Union address may have set a record for fewest surprises.

The usual elements were all in place, starting with the sergeant at arms shouting across the din of the chamber, quieting the crowd of worthies from both House and Senate, the Cabinet and the Supreme Court.

Then the president made his way down the center aisle, shaking hands with the members who had sent staff members to reserve these favored seats for hours for just this moment.

By embracing Newt Gingrich in its primary, the South Carolina GOP has risked its remarkable record of success at picking the party's eventual nominee for president.

It's been quite a run. Beginning with its primary in 1980, when it chose Ronald Reagan, South Carolina has voted first among Southern states. And the Palmetto State's choice has gone on to dominate the other Southern states and lock up the nomination in short order. That happened eight times in a row, counting incumbent renominations.

As Mount Washington calmly reigns over much of New Hampshire's geography, Mount Romney smiles down on the last day before the state holds the nation's first presidential primary.

The front-running former governor of neighboring Massachusetts spent the day getting chummy with crowds in Nashua and Hudson and Bedford, reciting his favorite lines from "America the Beautiful" and engaging in other behaviors just as risky. He came out in favor of free enterprise and job creation and got really cross with the Chinese for currency manipulation and intellectual property theft.

At last, the rivals who were supposed to savage front-runner Mitt Romney in the final weekend before Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire got down to business.

In the opening minutes of their debate Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, several of those chasing Romney in the polls let fly the roundhouse punches they'd been pulling through weeks and months of TV debates.

Once more, the great media consensus was confounded. Saturday night's debate at St. Anselm's College in Manchester, N.H., produced another battle among half a dozen presidential contenders, much like a dozen before it. Front-runner Mitt Romney was neither knocked out nor even knocked down. He was scarcely even knocked around.

Once again, the evening ended with the bruises pretty equally distributed among the contestants. And with the New Hampshire primary bearing down on Tuesday, virtually no time remains for Romney's rivals to bring him down.

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