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Farnsworth Publishes Book on Presidential Communication

Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, is author of a new book, Presidential Communication and Character: White House News Management from Clinton and Cable to Twitter and Trump, published by Routledge Press.

From the Publisher: This book traces the evolution of White House news management during America’s changing media environment over the past two decades. Comparing and contrasting the communication strategies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump, it demonstrates the difficulty that all presidents have in controlling their messages despite a seemingly endless array of new media outlets and the great advantages of the office. That difficulty is compounded by new media’s amplification of presidential character traits for good or ill. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube notwithstanding, presidential power still resides in the “power to persuade,” and that task remains a steep challenge.

The book also looks at the media strategies of candidates during the 2016 presidential campaign and covers the early phase of the Trump administration, the first true Twitter presidency.

More information

C-Span interview on "Presidential Communication and Character"

A changing Virginia – and an unchanging Republican Party (Opinion Column, Free Lance-Star)

By Stephen Farnsworth and Stephen Hanna

There’s an old saying that there is not much one can learn from the second kick of a mule. In Virginia’s 2018 Senate race, the Commonwealth’s voters provided the Republican Party of Virginia with its ninth mule kick in a row.

U.S. Senator Tim’s Kaine’s 14-point victory margin on November 6 marked the ninth consecutive statewide election where the Republican Party has come up short: Democrats won all three elections for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general in both 2013 and 2017 as well as the US Senate races of 2012, 2014 and 2018.

Link to column

With blue cities and red rural areas, the suburbs are the new political battleground (Washington Post)

“If the Republicans had a more effective Senate candidate, more money could have come into the state, and there could have been more collaboration with Republican campaigns. And as close as things were in VA-2 and 7, a stronger candidate at the top of the ticket could have made the difference in those House races,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington.

Link to report

Washington-Area Republicans Consider How To Move Forward After Midterms (WAMU)

Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington, said that Republicans in Virginia have been campaigning “as if Virginia looks as though it did in the 1990s.”

“The fundamental problem that Republicans are facing right now is a need to retool,” Farnsworth said. “The lessons of the last two statewide elections is the Republican Party needs to get in touch with the suburbs and tailor messaging to be more effective.” Farnsworth noted that Republican candidates’ harsh rhetoric on issues like immigration and a renewed battle over Confederate monuments in particular were turning off suburbanites.

Link to report