Sean McElwee is an American activist, data scientist, researcher, writer, and a co-founder of the non-profit think tank Data for Progress.
The Democratic presidential primary is over. Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee heading into the fall. And this week, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren endorsed their former competitor.On the left, the question is: What went wrong? How did Sanders lose to Biden? Why didn’t Warren catch fire? But too few of these postmortems have had sufficient data to build out their theories. And too many of them explain away strategic and tactical failures as media or establishment conspiracies.Sean McElwee has a different perspective. McElwee is the co-founder and executive director of Data for Progress, an organization that utilizes cutting-edge polling and data-analysis techniques to support progressive causes. His aim is to fashion an agenda that is both progressive and popular. But he also sits atop mountains of data that let him test hypotheses with a lot more rigor than most armchair pundits.As a result, McElwee has a fascinating, heterodox view of the 2020 primary, the Sanders and Warren campaigns, and what it will take for progressives to build power. We discuss the critical mistakes both major progressive candidates made, which progressive ideas are most popular with the American people, how the left’s theory of class politics interferes with its most obvious path to electoral victory, why maximalist policy agendas fail even when they look like they’re succeeding, what good (and bad) Overton Window politics look like, how progressives can shape Biden’s presidency, and much, much more.References: How Joe Biden won over Bernie Sanders — and the Democratic Party by Ezra KleinBook Recommendations: Deep Roots: How Slavery Still Shapes Southern Politics by Maya SenWant to contact the show? Reach out at ezrakleinshow@vox.comPlease consider making a contribution to Vox to support this show: Your support will help us keep having ambitious conversations about big ideas.The Ezra Klein Show is a finalist for a Webby! Make sure to vote at to the show? Want to check out Ezra’s favorite episodes? Check out the Ezra Klein Show beginner’s guide ( - Jeff GeldResearcher - Roge Karma Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Data for Progress co-founder Sean McElwee explains his strategy for a left-wing takeover of American politics, and the data-driven path to winning elections.Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Senior correspondent, Vox Sean McElwee (@SeanMcElwee) , Co-founder, Data for ProgressMore to explore:Subscribe for free to the Ezra Klein Show, a Vox podcast where Ezra brings you far-reaching conversations about hard problems, big ideas, illuminating theories, and cutting-edge research. About Vox:Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.Follow Facebook group: The Weeds Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sean McElwee has one of those jobs you certainly know about, but probably can't pinpoint what it is he does all day. Sean runs a think tank called Data for Progress that he started with Colin McAuliffe. As for what they do as an organization, the name says it all, they collect data to help push liberal political policies and ideas forward. But the way they do it may not be what you expect. Data for Progress is a part of new wave of smaller think tanks running on more of a startup model. Which means a lot of Sean's job is about figuring out ways to affect political change without the resources of much bigger institutions in their field. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Data for Progress co-founder Sean McElwee joined us on the podcast to discuss what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's victory over #4 House Democrat Joe Crowley in NY-14 means for the Democratic Party and the #AbolishICE movement.
View 2 more appearances
Share Profile
Are you Sean? Verify and edit this page to your liking.

Share This Creator

Recommendation sent

Join Podchaser to...

  • Rate podcasts and episodes
  • Follow podcasts and creators
  • Create podcast and episode lists
  • & much more

Creator Details

Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
6 hours, 51 minutes
Podchaser Creator ID logo 583801