The Run-Up-logo

The Run-Up

New York Times

The Run-Up will be back in the fall of 2023 — and we will be coming back as a weekly show as the presidential election heats up. Stay tuned! Listen to this podcast in New York Times Audio, our new iOS app for news subscribers. Download now at


New York, NY


The Run-Up will be back in the fall of 2023 — and we will be coming back as a weekly show as the presidential election heats up. Stay tuned! Listen to this podcast in New York Times Audio, our new iOS app for news subscribers. Download now at




The Run-Up Goes to Iowa

For the past few months, The Run-Up has been reporting on political insiders and the work they’ve quietly been doing to shape the 2024 presidential election. What we’ve found is a group of people — Republicans and Democrats — all operating under the premise that this race will revolve around former President Donald Trump. That his nomination — and thus a rematch between Trump and President Biden — is almost inevitable. But if anything is going to blow up that assumption, it’s probably going to start in Iowa. As the first state in the Republican primary process, Iowa plays a key role in narrowing the field. If Trump wins there, it may effectively mean that he has secured the nomination. However, there’s a group of voters that holds disproportionate power in the state and in American culture more broadly. These voters were once part of Trump’s coalition — and they are now wavering. If they go another way, the whole race could open up. In our final episode of the season, The Run-Up goes to Iowa and inside the evangelical church. We speak with Bob Vander Plaats, an evangelical activist with a history of picking Iowa’s winners. And we go to Eternity Church, where Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida recently spoke, and talk to Jesse Newman, the pastor, and other members of the congregation.


The Democrat Saying What Others Won’t

Back in 2020, Joe Biden stood out in a crowded Democratic primary field filled with younger, more historic candidates. Voters worried that Mr. Biden was too moderate, too uninspiring and too old. One of his challengers, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, got a lot of attention for his willingness to echo those concerns. But after going hard at Mr. Biden in a debate, his campaign fizzled and Mr. Castro, once a rising star in the Democratic Party, left Washington altogether. To some, it seemed like evidence of the consequences of stepping out of line with the party. Heading into the 2024 election, as voters grapple with the same questions about the incumbent president, Astead sits down with Mr. Castro to explore the party’s code of silence surrounding Mr. Biden’s primary alternatives and his advanced age. For more information on today's episode, visit


The Case for Democrats to Stop Playing Defense

Heading into the 2024 presidential election, a big part of the Democratic Party’s approach is to win through defense — to watch Republicans and promise voters that Democrats will be the solution to G.O.P. extremism. Some Democrats, however, argue that this is not a viable long-term strategy. This week, Representative Elissa Slotkin shares what happens when Democrats have a plan, and Megan Hunt, a Nebraska state senator, explains what happens when they don’t.


The New Terms of Abortion Politics

The Dobbs decision upended political calculations on both sides of the abortion debate. Democrats used the issue as evidence of Republican extremism, and it cost the G.O.P. seats in the 2022 midterms. Now, with a presidential primary looming, abortion activists have an opportunity to reset their strategies for 2024 and roll out new litmus tests for their respective candidates. This week, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, and Alexis McGill Johnson, head of Planned Parenthood, on how they’re trying to reshape the abortion debate in the U.S.


The Fight to Define Extremism

Two things are true: Bothsidesism can flatten the realities of political extremism in this country. And many voters really do see the Democratic and Republican parties as equally extreme at this moment. The parties know this. And they’re fighting to convince voters that it’s the other side that’s gone too far. That Republicans are the party of Donald Trump, election denial, Jan. 6 and six-week abortion bans. That Democrats are the party of woke-ism and the Squad. Today, we talk to two congressmen who have publicly clashed on this question — Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat, and Byron Donalds, a Republican — and press them on the roles they play in the fight.


The Backup Plan for Lost Voters

This episode contains strong language. A central reality of the 2024 presidential election is taking shape: Voters may, once again, be faced with a choice between Donald J. Trump and President Biden. For months, Astead has been speaking with party insiders whose main question about the next election is which candidate will win. Speaking to voters, however, their question is: How come both parties seem poised to nominate the same man again? Voters across the country are dissatisfied with the choice, yearning for other options. Astead speaks with voters and the leaders of No Labels, an organization that’s working toward creating a “unity ticket” that they hope will appeal to those in the middle.


The Anti-Trump Republicans (and the Specter of 2016)

The 2016 Republican primary field was crowded. At one point, 17 people were vying for the nomination. It was a pileup that many saw as leading directly to the ascent of Donald Trump. The specter of that election hangs over the current moment for anti-Trump Republicans — could a fractured party once again put Mr. Trump at the top of the ticket? The question now for potential candidates is: Should I run or should I get out of the way? Astead speaks with Larry Hogan, former governor of Maryland, and Asa Hutchinson, former governor of Arkansas — two Republicans who wrestled with this question and made different decisions. For more information on today's episode, visit


The Trump Inevitability Question

Outside a Manhattan courtroom, on the day of former President Donald Trump’s arraignment, Astead spoke to two camps of spectators. Supporters cast Mr. Trump as the victim of prosecutorial overreach, while opposing voices hoped this was just the beginning of his legal troubles. With an ever-shifting political landscape as America heads toward the 2024 election, what do Mr. Trump’s mounting legal woes mean for his electoral viability? Is success for the former president, despite it all, an inevitability? Astead speaks with Nate Cohn, The New York Times’s chief political analyst, about what the polls do — and do not — tell us.


The Pillow Guy and the R.N.C. Chair

Throughout our reporting inside the Republican Party over the past few months, one person kept showing up: Mike Lindell, MyPillow chief executive and election denier. At the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting, he ran to unseat the party chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel. At the Conservative Political Action Committee in Maryland, he couldn’t walk 10 feet without being cornered for a selfie. And more recently, he was a part of news coverage about the Dominion lawsuit and Tucker Carlson’s ouster from Fox News. While plenty of people don’t take him seriously, Lindell represents, maybe better than anyone else, the challenge facing the Republican Party in this moment: an establishment trying desperately to satisfy its base, despite evidence that their extreme beliefs are costing the party elections. After months of reporting on that dynamic, we talk to Mr. Lindell and Ms. McDaniel, two people who sit at opposite poles of the party.


The New Demands of the MAGA Right

For Republican presidential hopefuls, the Conservative Political Action Conference has played a very specific role in the election cycle. It’s where candidates try to establish their grass-roots credibility and convince conservatives that those running are listening to what they want. The conference culminates in a closely-watched straw poll — an early indicator of the candidates who have momentum. This year is an unusual one. After the midterms, the big story was that CPAC had become a place for has-beens and losing ideas. And with Donald Trump in the race, few candidates wanted to come and publicly challenge him in front of his base. But after spending time inside the political establishment of both parties, Astead felt that this was still a must-see event. Any candidate with a hope of securing the nomination is still going to need to speak the language of the grass roots. So, what do they want? We headed to CPAC to find out.


The Quiet Coronation of Joe Biden

A few weeks after the midterms, something happened that largely flew under the radar. Democrats were celebrating a successful election, and giving all the credit to President Biden. And against that backdrop, the party made an announcement: It would be changing the order in which states voted in the primary election, moving South Carolina first. The party was talking about it in terms of representation and acknowledging the role of Black voters. But given that South Carolina essentially saved Mr. Biden’s 2020 candidacy, Astead wondered: Was something else going on? We headed to the party’s winter meeting as it prepared to make the change official.


The Republican Party Sorts Through Its Mess

It may feel too early to be thinking about the 2024 presidential election — but it’s the perfect time to understand where the parties are at, and how their plans for the next election cycle are shaping up. In our first episode, we join the Republican National Committee in Dana Point, Calif., as it gathers for its winter meeting. After a disappointing midterms, fractures have formed within the committee’s ranks. After targeting Kevin McCarthy in the fight for House speaker, the grass roots turned their ire on Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the R.N.C. The effort to replace Ms. McDaniel at this year’s winter meeting is emblematic of what the party is at this moment: a mess of tangled lines and scrambled allegiances.


The 2024 Election Is Already Here

It may seem way too early to be thinking about next year’s presidential election — and it is too soon to ask who’s going to win. But actually, it’s the perfect time to understand what the parties took away from the last election and how that’s already shaping their plans for the next one. For the past few months, Astead W. Herndon has been reporting from inside the political establishment, where party leaders, donors and activists are already trying to influence the 2024 election — and while voters are less likely to pay attention and lines of allegiance are scrambled. “The Run-Up” returns Thursday, April 6. See you there.


The Post-Mortem

The midterm elections have left both parties in a moment of reflection. For Republicans, it’s time to make a choice about Trumpism, but one that may no longer be theirs to make. For Democrats, it’s about how much of their future is inherently tied to the G.O.P.


The Midterms

The votes are still being tallied across the country — but we’re starting to get a picture of what these midterms were all about, and where American politics might be headed. Astead Herndon joins Michael Barbaro, host of “The Daily,” to sift through early midterm election results.


The Grass Roots, Part 2

This moment in politics will be defined by shifts at the grass-roots level. It wasn’t long ago that Democrats used to brag about the coalition they had built — full of young people, minority voters and college-educated women. Today, we talk to members of the Democratic base, many of whom no longer see a clear path forward for the party.


The Grass Roots, Part 1

This moment in politics will be defined by shifts at the grass-roots level. Today, we talk to conservative voters about the forces animating the midterm elections for them — and what Washington can learn from the people. What do you think of “The Run-Up” so far? Please take our listener survey at


The Maps

How a 12-year project to lock in political power in Wisconsin could culminate in this year’s midterms – and provide a glimpse into where the rest of the country is headed.


The Flip

When Georgia flipped blue in the 2020 election, it gave Democrats new hope for the future. Credit for that success goes to Stacey Abrams and the playbook she developed for the state. It cemented her role as a national celebrity, in politics and pop culture. But, unsurprisingly, that celebrity has also made her a target of Republicans, who say she’s a losing candidate. On today’s episode: the Stacey Abrams playbook, and why the Georgia governor’s race means more to Democrats than a single elected office.


The Blueprint

How the Republican grass roots got years ahead of a changing country, and whether the Democrats can catch up.