The Gray Area with Sean Illing

The Gray Area with host Sean Illing is a philosophical take on culture, politics, and everything in between. We don’t pretend to have the answers, but we do offer a space for real dialogue. Resist certainty, embrace ambiguity, and get some cool takes on a very hot world. Formerly the Vox Conversations podcast. New episodes drop every Monday and Thursday.


James Carville unpacks the midterms

Sean Illing talks with veteran political strategist James Carville about the U.S. midterm elections — and the surprising success for Democrats that was a far cry from the "red wave" of Republican victories widely predicted by pundits. They talk about why the results differed so vastly from these expectations, what lessons both parties should be drawing from the outcomes, and whether or not the Democratic party, despite their victories, still have a systematic problem with political messaging.

This conversation took place mid-day on Wednesday, November 9th.

Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), host, The Gray Area

Guest: James Carville (@JamesCarville), political strategist; co-host, Politics War Room podcast


  • Fall 2022 Harvard Youth Poll (Oct. 27)
  • Exit poll data from ABC News and CNN
  • "'Wokeness is a problem and we all know it': James Carville on the state of Democratic politics" by Sean Illing (Vox; Apr. 27, 2021)
  • "GOP to use debt limit to force spending cuts, McCarthy says" by Eugene Robinson (Washington Post; Oct. 18)
  • 2022 abortion-related ballot measures (Ballotpedia)
  • "Democrats' Long Goodbye to the Working Class" by Ruy Teixeira (The Atlantic; Nov. 6)
  • "Is John Fetterman the Future of the Democratic Party?" by Michael Sokolove (New York Times; May 18)
  • On Carville's role in the abortion referendum campaign in Kansas: "The Most Consequential Vote in Recent American History is Happening Today and the News Media Is Ignoring It" by Colby Hall (Mediaite; Aug. 2nd)
  • "How a 10-Year-Old Rape Victim Who Traveled for an Abortion Became Part of a Political Firestorm" by Solcyre Burga (Time; July 15)
  • "Democrats still have a path to keep the House — but it's tough" by Andrew Prokop (Vox; Nov. 10)


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This episode was made by: 

  • Producer: Erikk Geannikis
  • Editor: Amy Drozdowska
  • Engineer: Patrick Boyd
  • Editorial Director, Vox Talk: A.M. Hall

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 2022-11-14  49m