Ron Elving

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.

He is also a professorial lecturer and Executive in Residence in the School of Public Affairs at American University, where he has also taught in the School of Communication. In 2016, he was honored with the University Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment. He has also taught at George Mason and Georgetown.

He was previously the political editor for USA Today and for Congressional Quarterly. He has been published by the Brookings Institution and the American Political Science Association. He has contributed chapters on Obama and the media and on the media role in Congress to the academic studies Obama in Office 2011, and Rivals for Power, 2013. Ron's earlier book, Conflict and Compromise: How Congress Makes the Law, was published by Simon & Schuster and is also a Touchstone paperback.

During his tenure as manager of NPR's Washington desk from 1999 to 2014, the desk's reporters were awarded every major recognition available in radio journalism, including the Dirksen Award for Congressional Reporting and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In 2008, the American Political Science Association awarded NPR the Carey McWilliams Award "in recognition of a major contribution to the understanding of political science."

Ron came to Washington in 1984 as a Congressional Fellow with the American Political Science Association and worked for two years as a staff member in the House and Senate. Previously, he had been state capital bureau chief for The Milwaukee Journal.

He received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University and master's degrees from the University of Chicago and the University of California – Berkeley.

Pity the poor news junkie, waiting bleary-eyed at the witching hour, wondering how to feel about the latest events in the Republican nominating contest.

One news source — let's say it's a cable news operation — says the latest round of GOP presidential preference contests is a huge boost to the flagging fortunes of Rick Santorum, the winner of the night's trifecta. The cable outlets all air tape of Santorum's triumphant victory speech again and again. He surely looks like a winner.

Imagine this: You're the Super Bowl host city, and you've gone to a lot of trouble to get the big game in your town. Now everyone's watching as the game comes to an end, and you can't get the scoreboard to work. Suddenly no one's sure who's ahead or how much time is left to play.

That nightmare scenario probably could not happen. But we have seen some highly improbable events lately that embarrassed the host states in the presidential nominating process.

Over the weekend, we heard Newt Gingrich assuring Floridians that his campaign was going all the way to the GOP's August convention.

Once the delegates got to Tampa, he said, all those who opposed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would unite to deny him the nomination.

"My job is to convert that [anti-Romney majority] into a pro-Gingrich majority," the former House speaker said Sunday.

We still don't know who'll win the Florida primary Tuesday, but after the past two debates it seems far likelier to be Mitt Romney.

Why? Because Newt Gingrich had vaulted from the margins to the forefront of the Republican presidential race in South Carolina on the strength of two debate performances. And that weapon has ceased to work in his favor.

The NBC and CNN debates this week in Tampa and Jacksonville went a long way toward neutralizing the impression created by debates the previous week in Myrtle Beach and Charleston.

This year's State of the Union address may have set a record for fewest surprises.

The usual elements were all in place, starting with the sergeant at arms shouting across the din of the chamber, quieting the crowd of worthies from both House and Senate, the Cabinet and the Supreme Court.

Then the president made his way down the center aisle, shaking hands with the members who had sent staff members to reserve these favored seats for hours for just this moment.

On Tuesday, it is likely the presidential campaign's focus will shift to Mitt Romney's tax returns, which show him making $42.5 million in 2010 and 2011. That number may be bigger than he can finesse by saying in essence: Don't hate me because I'm successful.

By embracing Newt Gingrich in its primary, the South Carolina GOP has risked its remarkable record of success at picking the party's eventual nominee for president.

It's been quite a run. Beginning with its primary in 1980, when it chose Ronald Reagan, South Carolina has voted first among Southern states. And the Palmetto State's choice has gone on to dominate the other Southern states and lock up the nomination in short order. That happened eight times in a row, counting incumbent renominations.

How embarrassing for Iowa GOP officials. How embarrassing for Iowa Republicans as a party. How embarrassing for Iowa.

But on the other hand, who told the world to hold its breath earlier this month, awaiting the latest word on who had edged ahead in the Iowa caucuses?

That would have been us. The news folks. Up all night to bring you the latest information — or misinformation, as it turns out.

And who told the world to care about these homey little midwinter Midwestern klatches in the first place?

That, too, would have been us.

There could not have been more apt an epitaph. The once-promising campaign of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman came to an end within hours of his being endorsed by The Columbia State, South Carolina's largest and most influential newspaper, within days of that state's Republican primary.

The woman who wrote the State's endorsing editorial said she felt as if she'd been wooed and won and abandoned by her newly betrothed. Indeed, over the course of his campaign, Huntsman left more than a few journalists feeling jilted.

The gathering of more than 100 evangelical Christian leaders and activists in rural Texas this weekend was an 11th-hour effort to unite "movement conservatives" behind a rival to Mitt Romney and demonstrate their own power within the Republican Party.

Instead, it may well be a revelation of their weakness as a force within the GOP. Because if Romney still wins the South Carolina primary next weekend, this final flailing attempt to stop him will make his victory all the more important — and his eventual nomination all the more inevitable.

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