The 7 Best Politics Podcasts

The 7 Best Politics Podcasts

Podcasts wouldn’t be the phenomenon they have become without politics. The industry likes to point to the success of true crime as the catalyst for podcasting’s mainstream popularity. But speak to most hosts who have made it big in the last five years, and they’ll point, often begrudgingly, to Joe Rogan as the reason they can make podcasting their full-time career.

You might take umbrage with this for moral reasons. Fine. But the political divisions we see in society have been easily capitalized on by political podcasts across the ideological spectrum. If the aim is to create a vacuum where only one ideology exists, why not start a podcast?

But not all political podcasts are nurturing polemical silos. Many attempt to at least understand where the other side is coming from. While they risk offending everyone and satisfying no one, there is bravery in championing a bipartisan approach. The political podcasts on this list occupy different positions on many things, but they share a common theme: curiosity towards difficult issues.

Left, Right & Center

“Knowledge is power,” goes the adage. We would argue that understanding is power, too. While no one is asking you to sympathize with someone you disagree with, developing a sense of empathy towards people on the other end of the political spectrum with not only make living in our modern times less stressful, it will give you the power to argue more effectively against their beliefs. After all, no opinions are created in a vacuum.

A great political podcast to cultivate this practice is KCRW’s Left, Right & Center. It’s a weekly debate that promises to be both provocative yet civilized, giving a voice to all sides of an argument. The show covers the biggest issues of our time, from abortion to events in the Middle East. And while the center often gets lost in these conversations, the show remains essential listening for informed voters.

Political Gabfest

Slate’s Political Gabfest was recently voted “Favorite Political Podcast” by Apple Podcast Listeners. It’s easy to hear why. The show is a bi-weekly discussion between journalists in Washington that takes place after hours, fueled by plenty of drinks. To fill up the feed, John Dickerson offers insightful essays in his “Navel Gazing” series, making Political Gabfest feel like an older version of political punditry. The discourse often turns to issues of trust in institutions and the state of the political centre. If you are a fan of the dialogue in The West Wing, this podcast will be right up your street.

Know Your Enemy

Know Your Enemy is a podcast that explains the conservative movement to listeners on the political left. The show is part history lesson, part book review, and gives a “smart thinking” level of insight into various figures and moments that have created the modern right. In each episode, hosts Matthew Sitman and Sam Adler-Bell interview academics about topics like “why the right loves foreign dictators” and the work of novelist Tom Wolfe.

Many shows on the left rely on “debunking” and “gotcha” moments. If you’re looking for constant take-downs, this show may underwhelm. But if you prefer historical discourse without too much irony and bad faith analysis, Know Your Enemy will intrigue and satisfy.

The Rest Is Politics

Would you ever guess that a show co-hosted by a former Conservative minister and a retired Labour communications director is one of the biggest podcasts in the UK? You can’t say Brits don’t have a dark sense of humor.

The Rest is Politics is hosted by Rory Stewart and Alistair Campbell, two men who have spent decades at the heart of Westminster. They cover domestic politics and international affairs with the patience and nuance that only comes with years of experience on the ground.

While conversations on The Rest is Politics can often sound suspiciously bi-partisan — perhaps the center will hold, after all — they aren’t afraid to challenge each other when it matters. If you are concerned that your listening habits are stuck in a comfortable bubble, this is a show that will ease you into alternative ideas without offense or antagonism. Stewart and Campbell’s friendship is a model for a more tolerant future.

The Rachman Review

Gideon Rachman is chief foreign affairs columnist at the Financial Times. His podcast, The Rachman Review, is a textbook case of traditional journalism done well. In each twenty-minute episode, he talks to the people who are shaping world affairs, from politicians and diplomats, to spin doctors and civil servants.

As a British journalist, Rachman’s analysis has a heavy weighting towards European issues. But he pays particular attention to economic affairs, including trade disputes between China and the United States. His episodes focus on snappy interviews, rather than rambling analysis, making them a great political resource to fit into a hectic workday. And while his approach may seem conservative to some, the old-school style will appeal to people who grew up with political interviews on the radio.

The Run-Up

Another year, another election. The Run-Up is a weekly politics podcast from The New York Times that covers American elections. Its host, reporter Astead W. Herndon, speaks to voters, politicians and activists on the ground in states nationwide. Rather than relying on pundits and hot takes, The Run-Up takes time to understand what matters to real people, painting a clear picture of the pre-election landscape without pushing the listener towards an obvious agenda. These are not short episodes. But investing in these layered narratives is worthwhile, especially if you lack the time to read long-form analysis.


It is only possible to discuss American politics by understanding the Supreme Court. For anyone outside the US, the sitting President can nominate judges for the court when someone dies or steps down. And since the Supreme Court is a lifelong appointment, who gets nominated is a big deal. Presidents will try to install someone who aligns with their policies, while the opposition will do anything to stop their nomination.

In recent years, this process has become even more controversial. Add the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade to countless other major rulings, and you can recognize why the Supreme Court is arguably the most consequential branch of the US government. To help us understand the controversies, as well as the legal cases going through the court, the learned team at 5-4 share their astute and progressive takes on their weekly podcast. While the show takes care to break down the technicalities of these legal issues, they make sure that their analysis is accessible to listeners who didn’t go to law school (and is quite hilarious, too).


Alice Florence Orr is a staff writer and assistant editor for Podcast Review. She is based in Edinburgh. You can connect with her on Twitter or read her work on