In off-the-record conversations and private emails, AFL-CIO political director Michael Podhorzer argued that pundits who focused exclusively on the fundamentals of the race — Biden’s approval rating and dismal economic indicators — were missing out. the big picture. Yes, presidents typically lose an average of about two dozen House seats in similar circumstances, but that was not the whole story.

While many analysts argued that inflation would be more important than the fuzzy issue of democracy, Podhorzer said that was shortsighted. He was far more right than wrong.

Podhorzer has now left the AFL-CIO after 25 years and is free to speak. In this episode of Playbook Deep Dive, host Ryan Lizza sits down with him in his kitchen for his first wide-ranging interview. They talk about what everyone got wrong about 2022, his criticism of right-wing media coverage, his ongoing battles with so-called popularists in the Democratic Party, and why Podhorzer already thinks the 2024 presidential election is on the way. towards a dangerous end. .