Ron Elving

Ron Elving is the NPR News' Senior Washington Editor directing coverage of the nation's capital and national politics and providing on-air political analysis for many NPR programs.

Elving can regularly be heard on Talk of the Nation providing analysis of the latest in politics. He is also heard on the "It's All Politics" weekly podcast along with NPR's Ken Rudin.

Under Elving's leadership, NPR has been awarded the industry's top honors for political coverage including the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a 2002 duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for excellence in broadcast journalism, the Merriman Smith Award for White House reporting from the White House Correspondents Association and the Barone Award from the Radio and Television Correspondents Association. 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."

Before joining NPR in 1999, Elving served as political editor for USA Today and for Congressional Quarterly. He 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, Elving served as a reporter and state capital bureau chief for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He was a media fellow at Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Over his career, Elving has written articles published by The Washington Post, the Brookings Institution, Columbia Journalism Review, Media Studies Journal, and the American Political Science Association. He was a contributor and editor for eight reference works published by Congressional Quarterly Books from 1990 to 2003. His book, Conflict and Compromise: How Congress Makes the Law, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1995. Recently, Elving contributed the chapter, "Fall of the Favorite: Obama and the Media," to James Thurber's Obama in Office: The First Two Years.

Elving teaches public policy in the school of Public Administration at George Mason University and has also taught at Georgetown University, American University and Marquette University.

With an bachelor's degree from Stanford, Elving went on to earn master's degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of California-Berkeley.



Tue February 3, 2015
It's All Politics

Life In The 'New' Washington: In Your Face! No, In YOUR Face!

Originally published on Tue February 3, 2015 7:28 pm

President Obama delivers remarks during a meeting with people who wrote him letters explaining how they benefited from the Affordable Care Act in the White House on Tuesday.
Evan Vucci AP

President Obama entertained a group of Americans on Tuesday in the intimate Roosevelt Room at the White House, thanking them for their written testimonials to the benefits of his Affordable Care Act. A few hours later, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the ACA in its entirety.

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Mon January 26, 2015
It's All Politics

Abortion Vote Shows How Much Democrats' World Has Changed

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 8:25 am

Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., announces he will vote to pass the health care reform bill after President Obama agreed to sign an executive order reaffirming the ban on the use of federal funds to provide abortions, March 21, 2010.
Alex Brandon AP

This week, Congress returns with House leaders vowing to revisit the anti-abortion bill they pulled off the floor last week. The ban on abortions after 20 weeks was withdrawn when it appeared there weren't enough Republican votes to pass it.

Why did it need quite so many Republican votes? Because the GOP can no longer count on a contingent of Democrats to help out on abortion-related votes.

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Fri January 23, 2015
It's All Politics

Senate Says Climate Change Real, But Not Really Our Fault

Originally published on Fri January 23, 2015 2:20 pm

Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., was the only senator to vote against an amendment calling climate change "real and not a hoax."
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Breathtakingly broad as its jurisdiction may be, the U.S. Senate does not usually vote on the validity of scientific theories.

This week, it did. And science won. The Senate voted that climate change is real, and not a hoax. The vote was 98-1.

The vote was about an amendment to the bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline. The near-unanimity of the climate change judgment was notable, because so many senators have cast doubt on ideas of "global warming."

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Wed January 21, 2015
It's All Politics

Obama State Of The Union Seeks To 'Turn The Page' To A Brighter Chapter

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 7:25 am

Mandel Ngan AP

In the first minute of his hourlong State of the Union address, President Barack Obama summed up his theme in single sentence: "Tonight, we turn the page."

The president then detailed a page of history filled with the financial crisis of 2008, the recession and unemployment and deficits that followed and the two distant and difficult wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It was a reminder of the ills that helped elevate young Sen. Obama to the Oval Office six years ago. And now, after many battles, he was ready to declare he had turned that page.

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Tue January 20, 2015
It's All Politics

Obama Joins Ike, The Gipper, Bill And George II In A Club No One Wants To Be In

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 7:06 pm

President Dwight Eisenhower delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of the 86th Congress in 1959. Behind him are Vice President Richard Nixon (left) and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn.

President Obama begins his seventh year in office Tuesday facing a Congress where both the House and Senate are in the hands of the opposition party. He shares this in common with every other president fortunate enough to even have a seventh year in office since the 1950s.

Dwight Eisenhower in 1959, Ronald Reagan in 1987, Bill Clinton in 1999 and George W. Bush in 2007 all climbed the rostrum for this late-in-the-game challenge looking out at majorities of the other party in both chambers.

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Fri January 16, 2015
It's All Politics

Iowa's Sen. Ernst Grabs Spotlight That's Often Proven Too Hot

Originally published on Fri January 16, 2015 10:43 am

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, will deliver the GOP response to the president's State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 20.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

On the one hand, having the just-elected senator from Iowa, Joni Ernst, deliver the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address next week makes perfect sense.

On the other hand, you have to wonder why anyone would want the job. As often as not, the opportunity to speak right after the president does has been the kiss of death for aspiring politicians — especially in the GOP during the Obama years.

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Wed January 14, 2015
It's All Politics

What If Mitt And Jeb Really Do Go At It, Hammer And Tongs?

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 3:44 pm

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (right) talks with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on Romney's campaign plane in 2012.
Charles Dharapak AP

Pity the poor guys who are trying to run for president while still serving as governors.

All the media attention this week went to former Govs. Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, because Romney suddenly decided to call in his chits and get back in the presidential conversation for 2016. Virtually every news organization in North America instantly got wide-eyed about it.

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Fri January 9, 2015
It's All Politics

Still Just A Bill: Why Being Senate Bill 1 Doesn't Guarantee Success

Originally published on Fri January 9, 2015 2:37 pm

Legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline is the latest Senate Bill 1. President Obama has vowed to veto it.
Sue Ogrocki AP

On his first day in his new job, freshly minted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., designated the Keystone XL pipeline bill as Senate Bill 1 --the first legislation introduced under his leadership.

That signaled more than just McConnell's own support for the bill. The prestige of being S-1 also conveys a sense of the priority and urgency Senate Republicans in general attach to the project, which would permit the pipeline to cross the U.S.-Canada border and carry crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf Coast.

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Mon January 5, 2015

6 Reasons Size Matters To The New GOP Majorities In Congress

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 1:12 pm

The 114th Congress opens Tuesday, swearing in the most House Republicans since 1947. But how much does the numbers game really matter now?
J. Scott Applewhite AP

The 114th Congress opens Tuesday with 246 Republicans taking the oath of office in the House. That's the most the GOP has sworn in since 1947, when the same number arrived for the 80th Congress intent on challenging Democratic President Harry Truman.

For a time, it had appeared that the new 114th majority would eclipse that of the 80th by one. But then Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., pleaded guilty to tax evasion charges and, after a sit-down with Speaker John Boehner a week ago, agreed to resign.

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Fri January 2, 2015
It's All Politics

Was Cuomo Destined To Be President Or Just Political Poet Laureate?

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 1:55 pm

New York Gov. Mario Cuomo gives a thumbs-up gesture with both hands during his July 16, 1984, keynote address to the opening session of the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco.

When he died of heart failure on New Year's Day, Mario Cuomo had been out of office exactly 20 years. But his impact endured, in part because he articulated his political philosophy so powerfully while at his peak and in part because he never fulfilled the destiny many envisioned for him on the national stage.

The New York governor's national moment in the sun came at night, in a San Francisco convention hall. On July 16, 1984, Cuomo gave the keynote address, mesmerizing a crowd of thousands in the Moscone Center and intriguing millions more on TV.

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Wed December 31, 2014

6 Reasons Steve Scalise Will Survive His Speech Scandal

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 5:26 pm

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., speaks during a campaign rally for U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., on Nov. 1 in Abita Springs, La.
Scott Threlkeld AP

Barring new and jarring developments, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is going to survive the story that he addressed a conference of white supremacists in 2002.

Unless further evidence emerges of liaisons with the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO, Scalise will take his oath next week for the 114th Congress as the No. 3 leader of the chamber's GOP — the party's largest majority since 1928.

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Mon December 29, 2014
It's All Politics

Obama Finds Reset Button With 2 Years To Go: Is It Too Late?

As he looks toward his seventh year in the White House, President Obama still believes there is time to make his presidency a transformational moment in history.

In an interview recorded shortly before he left for Christmas vacation in Hawaii, the president told NPR's Steve Inskeep that 2014 had been "a bumpy ride" but also the "breakthrough year" he himself had predicted.

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Mon December 15, 2014

Is Ted Cruz Running For President ... In 2008?

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 1:37 pm

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, talks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on Friday, as the Senate considered a spending bill.
Lauren Victoria Burke AP

Yes, we know the 2008 presidential election is years in the past and will not come around again. The question is, does Sen. Ted Cruz know this?

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Tue December 2, 2014
It's All Politics

Should We Rue Rob Portman's Decision Not To Run For President?

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 5:51 pm

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, conducts a town hall meeting with employees after an October 2014 tour of Harris Products Group in Mason, Ohio.
Al Behrman AP

This just in: At least one Republican in Washington has decided he doesn't want to be president.

OK, that's not exactly what Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio said. He said he wasn't running for president. Obviously, there is a difference. Nothing is more common in politics than a would-be mayor/governor/president who wishes he or she could just be appointed to the job.

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Fri November 21, 2014
It's All Politics

Who's Dreaming Now? Obama Opponents Do A Weapons Check On Immigration

Originally published on Mon November 24, 2014 8:20 am

Even though they were sitting close together at a White House luncheon earlier this month, Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on many issues including immigration. From left are House Speaker John Boehner, President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Evan Vucci AP

Even before President Obama actually announced his new deferred deportation policy for millions of people in the country illegally, Republicans were everywhere denouncing it and threatening retaliation.

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Thu November 20, 2014

Obama's Immigration Action Has Roots In Reagan Policy

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 6:30 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit


Sat November 15, 2014

Get Ready To Watch This Lame-Duck Congress Sprint

Originally published on Sat November 15, 2014 10:21 am

U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif., speaks Wednesday as U.S. military veterans, service members and immigration reform advocates look on during a press conference urging President Obama to move forward with immigration reform at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Maybe this duck won't be so lame after all.

Judging by what we've seen so far, the "zombie Congress" that returned to town this week (the reelected and the not-so-lucky) will do more business in the weeks following the election than it did in many months preceding.

Consider these trains — all long-sidetracked, all suddenly leaving the station on Capitol Hill:

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Thu November 13, 2014
Color Decoded: Stories That Span The Spectrum

The Color Of Politics: How Did Red And Blue States Come To Be?

Originally published on Fri November 14, 2014 10:31 am

NBC employees change Nebraska to red in the electoral map of the United States in 2008. All the TV news operations, including NBC News, settled on red for Republicans and blue for Democrats in 2000.
Mary Altaffer AP

Americans grow up knowing their colors are red, white and blue. It's right there in the flag, right there in the World Series bunting and on those floats every fourth of July.

So when did we become a nation of red states and blue states? And what do they mean when they say a state is turning purple?

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Wed November 5, 2014
It's All Politics

We Need A New Word For The Latest Republican Wave

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 3:22 pm

President Obama stumped for gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf this weekend in Philadelphia. Wolf's victory Tuesday was among the few bright spots for Democrats.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

In 2010, President Obama lost six seats in the Senate and 63 in the House and called it "a shellacking." Four years before that, President George W. Bush lost six seats in the Senate and 30 in the House and called it a "thumpin'. "

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Tue November 4, 2014
It's All Politics

The Most Reliable Guide To Campaign 2014? History

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 12:56 pm

Then-Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas was all smiles after Republicans took over the Senate in an eight-seat rout in 1994.
John Duricka AP

Still wondering where to put your money on the Senate races tonight?

There's been a lot of contradictory data flying around in the final hours and days of Campaign 2014, so don't feel alone. You can find polls in swing states that say the races are too close to call, and you can find others that show the Republican candidate opening a lead. You can, of course, listen to the party advocates and pundits, but while highly expert they are always pushing a given point of view.

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Wed October 8, 2014

36 States To Elect Governors Next Month

Originally published on Wed October 8, 2014 12:22 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit



Those who do vote in 36 states have a chance to vote for governor this fall. Governors' races tend to be a little less partisan than races for Congress. They're often more about what the guy in the statehouse, or the woman in the statehouse, can get done.

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Mon October 6, 2014

Did The Supreme Court Just Legalize Gay Marriage?

Originally published on Mon October 6, 2014 8:29 pm

People wait to enter the Supreme Court in Washington Monday as it begins its new term. The justices cleared the way Monday for an immediate expansion of same-sex marriage by unexpectedly and tersely turning away appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay and lesbian unions.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Technically, the Supreme Court Monday did not establish a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry. It merely declined an opportunity to rule definitely one way or the other on the question.

But in the not-too-long run, the consequences may well be the same. Because the situation the court created — or acknowledged — will almost surely continue trending in favor of same-sex couples who want to marry.

Conversely, the legal ground is eroding for states that want to stop such marriages or deny them legal recognition.

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Wed October 1, 2014
It's All Politics

The White House Could Be Made A Fortress, But Should It Be?

Originally published on Thu October 2, 2014 7:46 am

Visitors take photos in front of the White House.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP

It turns out the Secret Service isn't too good at protecting the White House, and maybe one reason is that we don't want it to be.

Secret Service agents are famously willing to sacrifice their own lives to protect the president and his family. They are also trained to take the lives of others in defense of their protectees.

But are they equally prepared to do either of those things for the White House itself? Should it be policy for the armed agents around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to use deadly force whether the president or his family is present or not?

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Fri September 26, 2014
It's All Politics

Why We Won't See The Likes Of Eric Holder Again

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 7:23 pm

President Obama, accompanied by Attorney General Eric Holder, speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House on Thursday to announce that Holder is resigning. Holder, who served as the public face of the Obama administration's legal fight against terrorism and weighed in on issues of racial fairness, is resigning after six years on the job.
Evan Vucci AP

When President Woodrow Wilson was casting about for an attorney general in 1919, his private secretary Joseph Tumulty wrote that the office "had great power politically ... we should not trust it to anyone who is not heart and soul with us."

Eric Holder's great qualification for the job he has just resigned was that he was with the president he served — heart and soul.

His complicated role in Barack Obama's administration was inextricably bound to race — he was the first African-American U.S. attorney general, appointed by the first African-American president.

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Tue September 16, 2014

How To Measure Success Against The New Monster In The Middle East?

Originally published on Tue September 16, 2014 3:06 pm

President Obama addresses the nation from the Cross Hall in the White House on Sept. 10. Obama ordered the United States into a broad military campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy militants in two volatile Middle East nations, authorizing airstrikes inside Syria for the first time, as well as an expansion of strikes in Iraq.
Saul Loeb AP

Over the weekend, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was asked on NBC's Meet the Press what victory would look like in the new struggle against Islamist extremists in Iraq.

"Success looks like an ISIL that no longer threatens our friends in the region, that no longer threatens the United States," McDonough said.

Vague as that is, it may be the best answer available at the moment. And that is a problem.

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Tue September 9, 2014

5 Questions About The 2 Weeks Congress Plans To Work This Fall

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 7:45 am

Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives return to work at the Capitol this week after a five-week vacation. They must get to work on a continuing resolution to extend funding for government agencies to prevent a government shutdown.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Tanned and rested after a five-week summer vacation, Congress has returned for a brief session before returning home to campaign for re-election. This autumn session is expected to last a couple of weeks, give or take a couple of days.

What can be accomplished in so short a time? A great deal, if House and Senate choose to work together. Or nothing, if they don't. If you are wondering which will happen, you haven't been watching the 113th Congress up to now.

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Sat September 6, 2014
It's All Politics

If It's Not About Sex, It Must Be About Money — Unless It's About Power

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell arrives at federal court in Richmond on Aug. 28.
Steve Helber AP

With the stunning conviction of former Virginia GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife on corruption charges, people are once again posing that age old question: Why do so many politicians get into trouble with the law?

The list of reasons comes as a shock because it's so short. The mighty are laid low by the same three temptations, over and over.

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Thu September 4, 2014

Guilty Verdicts For Former Gov. McDonnell And Wife In Corruption Trial

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 6:51 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit


Fri August 8, 2014

Tea Party Losing Every Senate Battle And Winning The War

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 9:31 am

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. (center), talks with Wallace Henson (left) while campaigning in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., on Aug. 5. Alexander fended off a Tea Party-backed challenge Thursday.
Mark Humphrey AP

Sen. Lamar Alexander easily dispatched rival Republican Joe Carr in the Tennessee primary Thursday, completing a clean sweep for this year's Senate incumbents who faced intraparty challengers claiming the Tea Party label.

Yet while they were winless, the hard-core conservatives intent on selecting a Senate more to their liking this year were far from utterly defeated. All of the challenged GOP incumbents reacted to the pressure by working to reconfirm their credentials with conservatives. This held true even for those whose credentials should have been least in doubt.

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Mon July 28, 2014
NPR Story

The Week In Politics: Progress On Upgrading VA Health System

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 1:52 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit



Congress is heading into its last week before taking a summer recess. For a change, lawmakers are not racing the clock to overt a fiscal calamity. Still, the standoff between the two parties has all but stopped the process of governing.

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