Election year meets a fast-growing medium. The result is more politicians becoming podcasters. Early data suggests they’re finding success connecting with voters, while the phenomenon is coming from both sides of the political aisle. Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) and Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) are two of the latest host additions.
The South Carolina politician has launched Clyburn Chronicles, a show the House Majority Whip says gives him and his guests a chance to discuss the intersection of history and politics, two of the Congressman’s passions. “I am a lover of history and I see this platform as a way to connect history with the politics of today. This is so important, because as George Santayana once said, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’” said Clyburn. “On each episode, my guest and I will have a conversation about the lessons of the past, the politics of the present and how we must learn from those experiences to help shape the future.”
Crenshaw’s podcast is Hold These Truths, which features the host and guests tackling a wide range of issues, from foreign policy issues like Iran and China, to 5G and Bitcoin.
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) may have been the first congressman to host a podcast. He launched Off the Cuff in December 2016. He said he created the podcast to let listeners know what he’s working on and to feature “productive discussions and open dialogue” about issues that impact his Northern California district.
There are plenty of other congressional podcasters,including Rep. Derek Kilmer, who hosted Quick Questions About Congress, and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who hosted a podcast between his two presidential runs. But “podfading” is just as much an issue for lawmakers as for other podcasters. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) launched his Canarycast podcast in October 2017—and released his last episode in November 2018 after he won re-election.
The pace of new launches could pick up as Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) continues to accumulate downloads of his newly launched podcast Verdict, which was designed to support the acquittal of President Trump during the impeachment trial. The show now boasts more than two million downloads; Cruz has said he plans to continue producing the podcast.
These podcasts also offer a way to reach voters without the expense of political advertising, while providing candidates the luxury of time when explaining their positions on voter issues.