Like a compass in a snowstorm, Michael Barone’s fact-grounded political commentary has a habit of pointing the way to familiar truths. Now writing twice a week for the Washington Examiner and making frequent appearances on Fox News, the American Enterprise Institute scholar uses history, demographics and election data to inform his analysis of America’s constantly changing political identity.
Although readers can guess his preferences, Barone’s careful factual analysis and unquestioned credibility with numbers sets him apart, making even the most hardened partisans on both sides sit up and listen.
Barone has been the principal author of the highly acclaimed Almanac of American Politics for the last 40 years. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale law school, and spent time practicing law, and engagd in professional polling. Barone also spent 18 years writing for U.S. News and World Report.
Barone confidently speaks from a minority position, falling outside the typical mainstream media mode of thought. In fact, he may revel, just a bit, in being different. But the results — an almost unparalleled popularity as a speaker and commentator — are hard to argue with.
TheDC’s Ginni Thomas had a lengthy sit-down interview with Michael Barone last week. He spoke about his political journey from left to right, the changing U.S. political landscape, why Washington can be so consistently tone-deaf to the American people’s needs and desires, and how the Democratic Party has changed during his decades of careful observation.
Why is Washington, D.C. so seemingly deaf to the rest of the nation? Part 1
“I think people in Washington are often aware of what’s going around in the rest of the country, but they sometimes overestimate how important the part of the country that they know best is and underestimate what the rest of the country is like. And it’s a big, complicated country.”
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Why is Washington, D.C. so seemingly deaf to the rest of the nation? Part 2
“What we see in Washington is a lobbying community, which takes a lot of criticism from the press, the politicians, the public, but that lobbying community in many cases is in touch with somebody or somethings out there.”
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What should we watch for in the coming senatorial and presidential election?
“The lineup of Senate races clearly favors the Republican Party.”
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Tell us about your personal political journey from liberal to conservative.
“People ask me for a one-word explanation of why I moved rather slowly from being liberal to being conservative. I think the single-word answer is ‘Detroit.'”
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How the Democratic Party changed over the years?
“I have seen a couple evolutions in the Democratic Party. In the late 1960s, the Democratic Party that had been the more hawkish of the two political parties for 60 years became the more dovish of the two political parties.”
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How do you put your encyclopedic Almanac of Politics together?
“The Internet has been a help and a hindrance for us … the good news is we have more information; the bad news is we have more information, and you can get lost in a wallow of paper and information.”
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