The Election Podcast Trying to Get Everyone to Stop Listening - OZY | A Modern Media Company

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“Election Profit Makers” is banning its listeners one by one.

By Fiona Zublin

At this point in an election cycle, is thinking about politics ever fun? Does it bring you joy? Do you do it on purpose? It’s hard for those of us who work in professions where reading the news all day is a requirement, but some people must enjoy it, even in these Turbulent Times.

I am not one of those people. I do not bring my work home, even though I do all of my work from home. I try not to spend any leisure time thinking about The News. My “recently listened to” podcast slate is all sassy historical figures and in-depth dissections of romance novels.

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Oh, and a politics podcast in which the three hosts place bets with their own money on political outcomes via PredictIt.

Election Profit Makers, hosted by David Rees (the genius behind cult comic “Get Your War On”), longtime radio favorite Starlee Kine and investor Jon Kimball, has a simple premise: Put your money where your punditry is. The hosts throw their dollars at the outcomes they predict (Kimball) and the ones they desire (Kine).

Co-host Starlee Kine

“I won’t buy any shares in any scenario involving Trump winning,” says Kine, “This is where Jon and I diverge. But betting on PredictIt does really help me cope, in, I hope, a healthy way. The Electoral College market is still cheap enough to feel like playing … solitaire, something to do when you need to zone out. And because there are no personalities attached to it, just numbers, I can lose myself in it more; [I] almost forget what those numbers represent.”

It works for listeners too. This election cycle has felt less like a horse race than many past ones. Although the news still focuses on the polls, it also seems to acknowledge that treating politics like a game might not be the best approach in a world that has been bowled over by the tsunami that is 2020. Election Profit Makers allows a touch of that gamesmanship back in — and it’s a welcome break from the grief and exhaustion many people are experiencing after an election cycle that feels like it’s lasted 1,500 days.

It’s eye-opening to listen to a podcast that began in early March, hearing what Rees, Kine and Kimball — three smart, perceptive people — thought was going to happen. One prediction Kine is particularly annoyed about that turned out to be accurate: Kimball guessed that Joe Biden would be the nominee. “I have like two shares of Bernie that I must have bought in the first weeks we started recording. They’re worthless, I can’t even sell them for a penny,” she says. “But having them comforts me, makes me feel like the fight is still being fought.”

But that’s not the only thing that makes Election Profit Makers a singular experience. It may be the first podcast actively trying to keep people from listening: Audience members who donate money to a voting rights organization earn the right to ban someone from listening to the podcast, and Kine, Rees and Kimball have raised more than $20,000. They can’t actually keep anyone from listening (or can they? Have I been banned? I may never know), but the stated goal is to have zero listeners by Nov. 2, possibly so nobody will ever know if they lost as much money on 2020 as they did on 2016.

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