RealClearPolitics (RCP) is a Chicago-based political news and polling data aggregator formed in 2000 by former options trader John McIntyre and former advertising agency account executive Tom Bevan. The site features selected political news stories and op-eds from various news publications in addition to commentary from its own contributors. Though their own political views lean conservative, the site's founders say their goal is to give readers "ideological diversity" in its commentary section.
RCP has expanded to include a number of sister sites. Politico founder Jim VandeHei has called the site "an essential stop for anyone interested in politics." The site is especially noted for its aggregation of polling data during election seasons, which is frequently cited by various media organizations that cover political issues.
The web site was founded in 2000 by McIntyre, a former trader at the Chicago Board Options Exchange, and Bevan, a former advertising agency account executive. McIntyre explained "it really wasn't any more complicated than there should be a place online that pulled together all this quality information". They call what they do "intelligent aggregation." The site has grown in election-season spurts since it first went online. It has expanded from a two-man operation to a full-time staff of more than two-dozen employees overseeing the company's mainstay, RealClearPolitics, as well as ten smaller sites.
In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, McIntyre said, "We're trying to pull together the best political stories, op-eds, news analyses, editorials out there. The proliferation of content is enormous. Part of what we're trying to do is distill it in a clear, simple way for people who don't have hours to spend searching the Net". He told the Chicago Sun-Times that RealClearPolitics strives to feature "serious intellectual pieces" and that they're "not looking for the over-the-top, vitriolic, red-meat craziness on either side".
Patrick Stack of Time magazine has described the site's commentary section as "right-leaning". The site has been described as being run by conservatives, and containing "opinion pieces from multiple media sources". In 2009 RealClearPolitics was described as a weblog "in the conservative pantheon" by Richard Davis.
In an interview with the conservative magazine Human Events, McIntyre described the philosophy behind the Web site as based on "freedom" and "common-sense values". Said Bevan, "We think debate on the issues is a very important thing. We post a variety of opinions". He further stated, "we have a frustration all conservatives have", which is "the bias in media against conservatives, religious conservatives, [and] Christian conservatives".
In a 2001 article for Princeton Alumni Weekly, which noted that "The articles selected invariably demonstrate McIntyre and Bevan's political bent, about which they are unabashedly forthcoming." McIntyre said, "I'm not really a die-hard Republican because my interests are less on social issues, more on taxing and spending... But I definitely don't want the government telling me what to do with my property... Nevertheless, any political junkie—even a liberal—would enjoy our site because the topics we choose are current."
Updated continuously, RealClearPolitics' websites aggregate content from a wide range of sources, sources that run the gamut of locations and political persuasions. Stories from the Washington Post and other large-circulation media frequently run alongside articles from such lesser-known papers as the Ottawa Citizen, while analyses from the liberal New Republic may be paired with conservative publications such as the Weekly Standard. McIntyre's purported objective is "to give readers ideological diversity. We're trying to stay immersed in the nation's political bloodstream at all times. That way, we can show you every small, little twist and turn, and give multiple sides to every story".
Forbes Media LLC bought a 51% equity interest in the site in 2007. On May 19, 2015, it was announced that RealClearInvestors and Crest Media bought out Forbes's stake for an undisclosed amount.
RealClearPolitics also owns RealClearMarkets, RealClearWorld, and RealClearSports. RealClearMarkets and RealClearSports were launched in November 2007. RealClearWorld, the international news and politics site, was launched in August 2008. RealClearScience and RealClearReligion launched in October 2010. RealClearHistory launched in 2012; in 2013 RealClearDefense was launched to cover military, intelligence, and veterans issues.
In addition to linking to external content, RealClearPolitics also provides original commentary and reporting, with a staff that includes Carl Cannon, Scott Conroy, Erin McPike, Caitlin Huey-Burns, Alexis Simendinger, James Arkin, and Sean Trende.
RealClearPolitics aggregates polls for presidential and congressional races into averages, known as the RealClearPolitics average, which are widely cited by media outlets. However, some statisticians say that it is sometimes misleading to average results from multiple polls. When Nate Silver of rival site FiveThirtyEight.com claimed RealClearPolitics.com was rigging its averages to favor Senator John McCain and other Republicans, McIntyre denied having a conservative bent, stating, "We're running a business, We have no interest in screwing around with that for partisan purposes". Silver later backed away from the claim and said the two sites had a friendly rivalry and grudging respect for each other.
RealClearPolitics.com scores points for its in-depth, right-leaning commentary section