If you meet Taegan Goddard out and about in Rye and ask him what he does, he’ll tell you he runs a ‘media’ company. To be exact, he runs one of the most popular political news sites on the web.
By Sarah Varney
If you meet Taegan Goddard out and about in Rye and ask him what he does, he’ll tell you he runs a ‘media’ company. To be exact, he runs one of the most popular political news sites on the web. Political Wire has more than 55 million visitors annually and Goddard has 38,000 followers on Twitter. In September, the site attracted 5 million readers.
While Goddard avoids predicting results, he does say that the virtual tie between Romney and Obama could presage a result similar to the Hanging Chad election of 2004.
“It could end up with the vote totals separated by mere thousands and again we might not know for months who won. This may turn out to be one of the closest elections in our lifetime,” he noted.
The presidential race was running along as expected until September. “Before the first debate, President Obama was on track to win the election handily, but his dreadful performance in the first debate opened the door for Romney. People decided to give Romney another look,” said Goddard.
A paucity of specific plans from both candidates has left voters unsettled. “Voters are desperate for specifics. I think that’s one reason that Bill Clinton’s speech at the convention this year was so successful. People remembered the specific policies and position papers that he released during his elections,” he noted. “Without specifics, you get a lot of the zany stuff we’re seeing.” That zany stuff includes the 47% video, Oval Office epithets aimed at Romney, the ‘Joltin’ Joe’ debate performance, a punch out threat from a riled Tagg Romney, and a general lack of gravitas.
Longer term, Goddard predicts the current atmosphere of vitriolic partisanship will end within the decade with a bang and not a whimper. He believes that either the Republican or Democratic Party is likely to implode within the next ten years. “It won’t be any one social issue that does it and it could be either party. It will happen after a crisis, probably something having to do with the economy. And it’ll be ugly, very ugly,” Goddard added.
Election politics is the focus of Politicalwire.com. It’s the machinations and the strategizing behind the scenes along with poll results and commentary on the accuracy of those results. It’s not about ideology. To keep that focus on target, Goddard steers Politicalwire down the middle of the road. The site first drew national attention in 2004 when Goddard was the first to pick up on John Kerry’s infamous quote, “I voted for it before I voted against it.”
Today, Politicalwire keeps Goddard at the center of online political news. He balances the daily torrent of political info for the site from the peace and quiet of his home office on Manursing Island. “I get to have my own life in Rye, but at the same time I have a separate life on the site,” he said.
His staff consists of three interns who also work remotely. Advertising is handled by the Economist Group, which publishes The Economist magazine.
It’s not surprising to learn that Goddard was raised in a household where politics was the main topic of discussion most nights at dinner. I caught the political bug during the 1976 presidential campaign when I was 10 years old,” said Goddard, who grew up in Hartford. He graduated from Swarthmore and then went on to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Working on election campaigns came naturally and he did stints for Senator Lowell Weicker among others.
He left politics for Wall Street and ended his finance career as COO at PIMCO Equity Advisers and Oppenheimer Capital before jumping into PoliticalWire full-time. In 1998, he and co-author Christopher Riback came out with “You Won, Now What?”, an entertaining primer for political electees and those who love them.
Between now and Election Day, Goddard will be as busy as the candidates. Stay wired.