Type of site
|News aggregator, political commentary|
|Owner||RealClearInvestors and Crest Media|
|Created by||John McIntyre, Tom Bevan|
|Key people||Tom Bevan (Publisher)|
Carl M. Cannon (Executive Editor)
|Launched||February 3, 2000|
RealClearPolitics (RCP) is an American political news website and polling data aggregator formed in 2000 by former options trader John McIntyre and former advertising agency account executive Tom Bevan. The site features selected political news stories and op-eds from various news publications in addition to commentary from its own contributors. The site is prominent during election seasons for its aggregation of polling data.
According to a 2020 Knight Foundation study, RealClearPolitics is generally read by a moderate audience, leaning slightly toward the right. According to a 2012 article in the Chicago Sun-Times, competitors and people inside politics have praised the site's balance of stories; Buzzfeed's top editor called their polling average "the Dow Jones of campaign coverage.”
The website was founded in 2000 by McIntyre, a former trader at the Chicago Board Options Exchange, and Bevan, a former advertising agency account executive. McIntyre explained "it really wasn't any more complicated than there should be a place online that pulled together all this quality information." They call what they do "intelligent aggregation". The site has grown in election-season spurts since it first went online. It has expanded from a two-man operation to a full-time staff of more than two dozen employees overseeing the company's mainstay, RealClearPolitics, as well as ten smaller sites.
Both co-founders graduated from Princeton in 1991. When they launched the site, they would both start their day at 4 a.m., looking through articles from more than 50 sources. They post pieces on current events and topics, as well as news about opinion polls. The site reports on political races and projections, and features the average result of all current presidential polls and also offers a best-guess projection of Electoral College votes.
2000 to 2017
In a 2001 article for Princeton Alumni Weekly noted that "The articles selected invariably demonstrate McIntyre and Bevan's political bent, about which they are unabashedly forthcoming." McIntyre said, "I'm not really a die-hard Republican because my interests are less on social issues, more on taxing and spending. ... But I definitely don't want the government telling me what to do with my property... Nevertheless, any political junkie—even a liberal—would enjoy our site because the topics we choose are current."
In a 2003 interview with the conservative magazine Human Events, McIntyre described the philosophy behind the website as based on "freedom" and "common-sense values"; Bevan said that the website's owners shared the common conservative belief that the mainstream media was biased "against conservatives, religious conservatives, [and] Christian conservatives".
In a 2008 interview with the Chicago Tribune, McIntyre said, "We're trying to pull together the best political stories, op-eds, news analyses, editorials out there. The proliferation of content is enormous. Part of what we're trying to do is distill it in a clear, simple way for people who don't have hours to spend searching the Net." In 2009, RealClearPolitics was described as a weblog "in the conservative pantheon" by Richard Davis.
In 2012, the Chicago Sun-Times noted that "competitors, political operatives and elected officials who regularly consult the site say they appreciate the balance of stories that Bevan, McIntyre and their staff choose."
The 2012–2013 edition of academic text Cengage Advantage Books: American Government and Politics Today, Brief Edition describes the site as being run by conservatives, and containing "opinion pieces from multiple media sources".
Rightward turn during Trump's presidency
Since 2017, when a large number of its straight news journalists were laid off, RealClearPolitics has had a rightward, aggressively pro-Trump turn with donations to its affiliated nonprofit increasing, with much of that from entities used by wealthy conservatives. Several journalists who talked to The New York Times in 2020 said they never felt any pressure from the site's founders to bias their stories.
An October 2019 article in The Daily Beast reported that RealClear Media manages a Facebook page of "far-right memes and Islamophobic smears". Anand Ramanujan, Chief Technology Officer for RealClear Media, responded that the company created the website that was affiliated with the Facebook page "as part of an effort to understand the flow of traffic from social media—particularly Facebook—to political websites."
In November 2020, The New York Times said that "Real Clear became one of the most prominent platforms for elevating unverified and reckless stories about the president's political opponents, through a mix of its own content and articles from across conservative media" and that for days after the election "Real Clear Politics gave top billing to stories that reinforced the false narrative that the president could still somehow eke out a win." Some allies of Donald Trump falsely claimed that RealClearPolitics had rescinded its call of Pennsylvania for Biden; however, the website had not yet called a winner in the state.
In 2016, RealClearInvestigations was launched, backed by foundations associated with conservative causes, such as the Ed Uihlein Family Foundation and Sarah Scaife Foundation. In 2019, the site published an article by a conservative author, Paul Sperry, containing the supposed name of a U.S. intelligence officer who blew the whistle on the Trump–Ukraine scandal. The article's publication came as part of a month-long effort by Trump allies on media and social media to "unmask" the whistleblower, whose identity was kept confidential by the U.S. government, in accordance with whistleblower protection (anti-retaliation) laws. Most publications declined to reveal the whistleblower's identity; RealClearInvestigations' editor defended the site's decision to publish the article.
Forbes Media LLC bought a 51% equity interest in the site in 2007. On May 19, 2015, RealClearInvestors and Crest Media announced that they had bought out Forbes's stake for an undisclosed amount.
RealClearPolitics also owns RealClearMarkets, RealClearWorld, and RealClearSports. RealClearMarkets and RealClearSports were launched in November 2007. RealClearWorld, the international news and politics site, was launched in August 2008. RealClearScience and RealClearReligion launched in October 2010. RealClearHistory launched in 2012; in 2013 RealClearDefense was launched to cover military, intelligence, and veterans' issues.
In addition to linking to external content, RealClearPolitics also provides original commentary and reporting, with a staff that includes Washington Bureau Chief Carl M. Cannon (who also serves as Executive Editor of RealClear Media Group), Caitlin Huey-Burns, White House Correspondent Alexis Simendinger, James Arkin, and Senior Analyst Sean Trende. Former staff includes Scott Conroy and Erin McPike.
Political poll averaging
RealClearPolitics aggregates polls for presidential and congressional races into averages, known as the RealClearPolitics average, which are widely cited by media outlets. In 2008, Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight said that RealClearPolitics was rigging its averages to favor Senator John McCain and other Republicans, although he later receded from this claim, indicating that his site and RCP had a friendly rivalry. McIntyre denied having a conservative bent, saying that the site was a business and had "no interest in screwing around with that for partisan purposes".
In 2012, Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, said, “They are a huge force. Their polling average is the Dow Jones of campaign coverage.”
In 2016, Republicans performed 1.7% better than the final RealClearPolitics average, and Republicans performed 3.3% better than the site's average in 2014. In the 2016 presidential election, the final RealClearPolitics average margin overestimated Democrat Hillary Clinton's popular vote performance by 1.3%. The final electoral college prediction map produced by RealClearPolitics predicted the average outcome to be that she would narrowly win the election with 272 electoral votes. However, she lost the election to Republican Donald Trump despite winning the popular vote. In 2018, the site underestimated the Democratic vote in the 2018 congressional elections by just over one percentage point.
Right before Super Tuesday during the 2016 presidential primaries, Bevan called Super Tuesday for Donald Trump, telling the New York Times, “It will be a Trump tsunami" and predicting a Trump victory in every state holding a primary that day except for Texas.
- Historical polling for United States presidential elections
- List of polling organizations
- Opinion poll
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- Wolinsky, Howard (September 18, 2006). "Politicking pays off: Web site a must-read for political fanatics". Chicago Sun-Times: 55.
- Rob MacKay, "Political junkies create Web site for opinion and analysis", June 6, 2001 Princeton Alumni Weekly. Princeton
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- "American Views 2020: Trust, Media and Democracy" (PDF). Knight Foundation. November 9, 2020. p. 57.
- "Popular, Chicago-based political news website run by two family guys". Chicago Sun-Times. 2012-05-30. Retrieved 2022-05-16.
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RealClearPolitics.com scores points for its in-depth, right-leaning commentary section
- Johnson, Steve (February 7, 2008). "Real Clear Politics real clear on its growth, mission". Chicago Tribune.
- Richard Davis, Typing Politics: The Role of Blogs in American Politics p. 54 (2009) Oxford University Press Google.
- Richard Davis, Politics Online: Blogs, Chatrooms, and Discussion Groups in American Democracy p. 43 (2013) Routledge Google.
- Holmes, Elizabeth. "Polls Show Race Tightening in Florida". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
- Chozick, Amy. "Candidates Focus on Western States". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
- Knowlton, Brian. "In projections, Obama holds electoral lead". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
- Steffen Schmidt, Mack Shelley, Barbara Bardes, Cengage Advantage Books: American Government and Politics Today p. 140 Google. Cengage Learning, 2012
- Poulse, Kevin; Maxwell, Tani (October 8, 2019). "RealClear Media Has a Secret Facebook Page to Push Far-Right Memes". Retrieved October 8, 2019.
- Fauzia, Miriam (November 10, 2020). "Fact check: Political news website never called Pennsylvania for Joe Biden". USA TODAY. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
- Alba, Davey (10 November 2020). "False claims that Biden 'lost' Pennsylvania surge, and tech companies struggle to keep up". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
- "A New Destination for Investigative Journalism". RealClearInvestigations. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
- Isaac Stanley-Becker & Craig Timberg, Trump's allies turned to online campaign in quest to unmask Ukraine whistleblower, Washington Post (November 7, 2019).
- "Forbes Media Acquires Fifty-One Percent Stake in RealClearPolitics.com". Forbes (Press release). November 7, 2007 – via Business Wire.
- "Crest Media And Real Clear Investors Buy Remaining Stake In RealClearPolitics" (Press release). Crest Media. May 19, 2015 – via PRNewswire.com.
- Gustafson, Colin (March 10, 2008). "On Web, Political Junkies Make a Real Clear Choice". The New York Sun. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
- "New RealClear Sites Launching Today – Real Clear Politics – TIME.com". Archived from the original on October 18, 2010.
- "RealClearDefense – Opinion, News, Analysis, Video and Polls". realcleardefense.com.
- "Carl Cannon Washington Bureau Chief of RealClearPolitics and Executive Editor of RealClear Media Group". Leading Authorities International. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
- "Carl M. Cannon". C-SPAN. Retrieved March 9, 2021.
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- "James Arkin". C-SPAN. Retrieved March 15, 2021.
- "Sean Trende". American Enterprise Institute. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
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- "RealClearPolitics – Election Other – 2018 Generic Congressional Vote". www.realclearpolitics.com.
- Williamson, Elizabeth (2016-03-01). "What the Polls Say About Super Tuesday and Beyond". The New York Times. Retrieved 2022-04-06.
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