Civics 101 Why does the U.S. have an Electoral College? How do congressional investigations work? What does the minority whip actually do? Civics 101 is the podcast refresher course on the basics of how our democracy works.
Civics 101

Civics 101

From New Hampshire Public Radio

Why does the U.S. have an Electoral College? How do congressional investigations work? What does the minority whip actually do? Civics 101 is the podcast refresher course on the basics of how our democracy works.

Most Recent Episodes


It's just a survey; a handful of questions that get issued to every household in the country every ten years. So how does a countrywide headcount end up being at the core of power and money distribution in the U.S.? And why does it matter if you fill it out? Walking us through the people, money and power at the heart of the census are national NPR correspondent Hansi Lo Wang and Chief Historian of the U.S. Census Bureau Sharon Tosi Lacey. After you listen, why not stand up and be counted as a supporter of Civics 101? We're in the throes of our end of year fund drive and we're asking you, dear civics listener, to consider making a contribution to the future of Civics 101. It's easy, mere moments, faster than filling out the census! If you're so inclined, you can make your gift here:

Student Contest Announcement: Stump Speech

Can you tell us what America needs? In this year's Student Contest, we're looking for your stump speech, that 60-second pitch to the nation on what you'd focus on if you were running for president. What are the most important issues? How would you fix them? All students are welcome to contribute to this contest. The winning speeches will be assembled and released to our Civics 101 audience. The deadline is 12/31. To submit, record a 60-second or so voice memo of your stump speech on either your phone or computer and send it to Make sure to tell us your name and your school! Alternatively, you can leave your stump speech on our Civics Hotline by calling 202-798-6865. Good luck!

Electoral College

When we vote for a president, we're not really voting for a president. Today in our episode on the Electoral College, we explore the rationale of the framers in creating it, its workings, its celebrations, its critiques, and its potential future. This episode features the voices of Northwestern Professor of political science Alvin Tillery, University of Texas Professor of political science Rebecca Deen, and former 'faithless elector' Christopher Suprun.

Introducing: Stranglehold

Want to dig deeper into the world of presidential primaries? No better place to start than New Hampshire. Our colleagues Lauren Chooljian and Jack Rodolico tell the story of New Hampshire's grip on the First in the Nation primary in this podcast about power and the characters who wield it here in the Granite State. You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and learn more about Stranglehold at Original music by Jason Moon and Lucas Anderson. Stranglehold reporting/production team: Lauren Chooljuan, Jack Rodolico, Jason Moon, Casey McDermott, Josh Rogers, Nick Capodice, Hannah McCarthy and the NHPR newsroom.


The primaries are over, the caucusing has closed, the results are in. Now it's time to party. Nominating conventions are, by and large, a chance for political elites to get together, network and celebrate. The American public has picked a presidential candidate and the convention is there to give it all some pomp and circumstance. But what are all those fancy folk up to in that convention center? And what happens if there is no clear winner after primary season is over? Taking us out onto the convention floor are Domenico Montanaro (NPR Political Correspondent), Alvin Tillery (Northwestern University), Bruce Stinebrickner (Depauw University) and Tammy Vigil (Boston University).


We have never actually fired the President of the United States. But we sure have tried. It's the biggest job in the country, so the road to termination is a long and fraught. What happens after Congress initiates the process? What is impeachment? How does the process play out? Our brilliant friends Linda Monk (the Constitution Lady), Frank Bowman (author of High Crimes and Misdemeanors) and Dan Cassino (Political Science Professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University) are our guides to the Big Show.

Primaries and Caucuses

It's one of the most democratic aspects of our nation, not to mention extremely recent. In this episode we explore the snarled history of how we select party nominees; from delegates to superdelegates, and from gymnasiums in Iowa to booths in New Hampshire. This episode features political scientists Bruce Stinebrickner (DePauw University) and Alvin Tillery (Northwestern University), NPR's Domenico Montanarro, Iowa Public Radio's Kate Payne, and Lauren Chooljian from NHPR.

How to Run for President

The job description is pretty sparse, the laws are convoluted and the path from A to Z seems fraught with peril. So how does a person go from candidate to nominee to Leader of the Free World? We asked some heavy hitters for the inside scoop on running for President. Settle in for a long and strange ride with Former Governor and Democratic nominee for President, Michael Dukakis, CNN political analyst Bakari Sellers and founding partner of Purple Strategies, Mark Squier.

Student Contest Winner: On the Bench

It's time for the 2nd annual winner of our Student Contest! Our winners are Jessie Aniloff, Katie Bruni, and Tara Czekner from Anthony Micalizzi's class at Villa Joseph Marie High School In their podcast, On the Bench, they share their thoughts on representation in the Supreme Court, citing the work done by the four female justices to take the bench thus far.

Starter Kit: How A Bill (really) Becomes a Law

We at Civics 101 adore Schoolhouse Rock and that sad little scrap of paper on the steps of the Capitol. But today we try to finish what they started, by diving into the messy, partisan, labyrinthine process of modern-day legislation. This episode features the voices of Andy Wilson, Adia Samba-Quee, Alizah Ross, and Eleanor Powell.

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