hero image
Stephen Farnsworth - University of Mary Washington. Fredericksburg, VA, US

Stephen Farnsworth Stephen Farnsworth

Professor of Political Science and International Affairs | University of Mary Washington

Fredericksburg, VA, UNITED STATES

Dr. Farnsworth has spent decades researching how media and politics intersect. Check out his website at stephenfarnsworth.net.

Spotlight

Media

Publications:

Stephen Farnsworth Publication Stephen Farnsworth Publication Stephen Farnsworth Publication Stephen Farnsworth Publication Stephen Farnsworth Publication Stephen Farnsworth Publication Stephen Farnsworth Publication

Documents:

Photos:

loading image loading image loading image

Audio/Podcasts:

Social

Biography

Dr. Farnsworth is a sought-after political commentator on subjects ranging from presidential politics to the local Virginia congressional races. He has been widely featured in national media, including The Washington Post, Reuters, The Chicago Tribune and MSNBC.

He is author or co-author of seven books on presidential communication. His work, "Presidential Communication and Character: White House News Management from Clinton and Cable to Twitter and Trump," examines how the last four U.S. presidents sell themselves and their policies in an ever-expanding and sometimes precarious media environment.

Among his other books are "The Global President;" "Spinner in Chief: How Presidents Sell Their Policies and Themselves;" "The Nightly News Nightmare: Media Coverage of U.S. Presidential Elections, 1988-2008;" "The Mediated Presidency: Television News and Presidential Governance;" "Political Support in a Frustrated America;" and "Late Night With Trump: Political Humor and the American Presidency."

A professor at University of Mary Washington for nearly two decades, he established the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies. He is recipient of the 2017 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award by the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV), and was recognized for his service to the national political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha. The University has bestowed four teaching honors, including the Alumni Association Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award, the Mary W. Pinschmidt Teaching Award, the Richard Palmieri Outstanding Professor Award and the Waple Research Professorship Award.

Areas of Expertise (7)

The American Presidency

Internet Politics

Mass Media and Politics

Virginia Government and Politics

Journalism

American Elections

American Government

Accomplishments (10)

Waple Research Professorship (professional)

2018-03-31

Awarded for outstanding research in political science.

Farnsworth Receives Outstanding Faculty Award (professional)

2017-01-04

Stephen J. Farnsworth, University of Mary Washington professor of political science and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies, has received the prestigious 2017 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award by the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia (SCHEV).

Farnsworth Receives National Political Science Association Award (professional)

2016-09-13

Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the UMW Center for Leadership and Media Studies, was recognized for his dedication and service to Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, at the American Political Science Association Conference in September 2016.

Recipient, Distinguished Communicator Award (professional)

2016-04-10

Awarded by the Virginia Association of Communication Arts and Sciences.

Best Conference Paper Award in Political Communication (professional)

2011-04-01

Eastern Communication Association

Best Conference Paper Award in Political Communication (professional)

2009-04-01

Southern States Communication Association

J. William Fulbright Research Chair in Public Policy (professional)

2006-01-01

McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award (professional)

2001-01-01

Awarded by the Alumni Association of Mary Washington College.

Mary W. Pinschmidt Teaching Award (professional)

1999-01-01

Presented by the graduating class to the faculty member "who had the greatest impact on their lives" at Mary Washington College.

Richard Palmieri Outstanding Professor Award (professional)

1999-01-01

Presented by Mortar Board honor and service society in recognition of exceptional teaching and service to Mary Washington College.

Education (4)

Georgetown University: Ph.D., American Government

Georgetown University: M.A., American Government

University of Missouri: B.A. (Honors), History

Dartmouth College: B.A. (Honors), American Government

Affiliations (3)

  • Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society
  • Fredericksburg Regional Board of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia : Member
  • Former Chair, Political Communication Section of American Political Science Association. 2012-2014

Media Appearances (22)

Former President Expected to Run in 2024

CTV News Channel  online

2021-11-17

"There certainly is some conversation among the Republicans that it might be more useful if the former president waited a little while longer, maybe until after the runoff in Georgia, but I don't know if Donald Trump is going to listen to advice all that much," said Stephen Farnsworth.

view more

LISTEN: Town Talk/UMW’s Dr. Stephen Farnsworth

Fredericksburg Today  online

2021-11-17

"I really think the Republicans lost the way from what should have been a normal year for Congressional mid-term elections," said Stephen Farnsworth.

view more

Virginia education department proposes major changes to social studies standards

The Washington Post  online

2022-11-14

“This effort to revive social studies content is the latest in a series of efforts by the governor to shape education along the lines of his preferences,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington. “The governor may be walking into a fight with educators, but that can’t possibly be a surprise to him at this point.”

view more

Is the 2nd District election a harbinger for 2024?

Richmond Times-Dispatch  online

2022-11-14

“The big thing that matters now is negative partisanship, people hating the other side more than they feel positive about their own,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington.

view more

Midterms reveal Trump may not do as well as he expected in his political future

fingerlakes1.com  online

2022-11-14

“I do think that the former president saddled the Republican party with some real liabilities in terms of the candidates,” Stephen Farnsworth said. “If you think about Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, you think about Herschel Walker in Georgia, these are candidates who really struggled to compete in what should have been a pretty favorable environment, given the unpopularity of President Biden.”

view more

Midterm Election Results

CTV News  online

2022-11-14

"We will probably have a better answer by tomorrow morning. There are a significant number of votes somewhere in the range of 22,000 plus in Nevada that still need to be counted, and that is a very close race. That may create the 50th Democratic seat for the Democrat incumbent there, and the votes that have not been counted are from the Las Vegas area which is one of the more Democratic areas of the state, " said Stephen Farnsworth.

view more

U.S. Midterm Elections

CTV News  online

2022-11-10

"There are two I would pick. In the Senate, I really think that the New Hampshire race is the key to watch. I think that is going to give an early indication in the eastern time zone about whether or not there is going to be a red wave tonight. When you are looking at the House, it is actually a surburban district here in the Washington area in Northern Virginia's 7th district which puts Abigale Spanberger in a very different district than she had previously represented," said Stephen Farnsworth.

view more

Youngkin likely spent political capital with campaigning, analysts say

Richmond Times-Dispatch  online

2022-11-10

Some of that capital could come from his own GOP, said Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington. “Virginia Republicans have to ask themselves: ‘What if the governor spent less time out of state and more time in the state?’” Farnsworth said. “More time in-state could have affected the 7th, less time in South Dakota would not affect that result.”

view more

Here's what Democrats can learn from the Abigail Spanberger, Yesli Vega race

WUSA 9  online

2022-11-10

"The Vega campaign started off on the wrong foot because of issues relating to abortion," Dr. Stephen Farnsworth of University of Mary Washington explained. "The Spanberger campaign took advantage of that rookie mistake and went after her with advertisement after advertisement throughout the fall."

view more

Dr. Stephen Farnsworth: Jen Kiggans, Abigail Spanberger, and Virginia's Midterm Results

POD Virginia  online

2022-11-10

Listen to this episode from Pod Virginia on Spotify. On this episode, Thomas and Michael are joined by Dr. Stephen Farnsworth of the University of Mary Washington to discuss the Virginia races in the 2022 midterms--including takeaways for Republicans and Democrats, as well as the landscape moving

view more

NotedDC — White House is Biden’s to lose in 2024, analyst says

The Hill; Yahoo News; EOnline  online

2022-11-04

Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, said, “If you look back to the days when Senator John Warner was active in Virginia politics, for example, you really did see a real concern about conservative Republicans undermining the state of the party as well as not being the best choice for the country.”

view more

Early voting ends Saturday, polls open Tuesday at 6 a.m.

The Free Lance-Star  online

2022-11-04

“I think that over the last 20 years, politics in America and in Virginia has become much more of a blood sport,” said Steven Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies.

view more

Rep. Morgan Griffith faces challenger Taysha DeVaughan in the 9th District

Cardinal News  online

2022-11-03

Stephen J. Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington, said that in the past three decades the 9th District may have seen the biggest political shift of any district in Virginia. “Thirty years ago, when there were still many jobs in mining, there was a much stronger Democratic presence in the 9th, and more competitive elections,” he said. “The current version of the 9th is very hospitable to Republicans, and nobody calls it the ‘Fighting Ninth’ anymore.”

view more

Schapiro: Not quite Youngkin's "macaca" moment, but close

Richmond Times-Dispatch  online

2022-11-03

“Toddlers and politicians have something in common: their rewarded behavior is repeated behavior,” said Stephen Farnsworth of the University of Mary Washington, author of “Presidential Communication and Character: White House News Management from Clinton and Cable to Twitter and Trump.”

view more

Ted Cruz barnstorms to boost conservatives in midterms and himself, maybe, in 2024

The Eagle  online

2022-10-31

“Sounds like Virginia is the latest stop as Ted Cruz tries to build that campaign bandwagon for another presidential run. ... Candidates enjoy having IOUs,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington who has been tracking the Vega-Spanberger race.

view more

Elon Musk begins takeover of Twitter. Experts are wary

Courthouse News Service  online

2022-10-31

Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at University of Mary Washington, believes the financial pressures Musk will take on in buying Twitter will help tame his plans for the platform. “He’s paid a great deal for this property and will have to provide a great deal of money in debt service, and that’s going to create a great deal of pressure on him not to drive current Twitter users away,” he said. “That may mean Musk is not able to change Twitter as much as he might like, or risk paying a huge financial price if he does follow through on his libertarian vision for the social network.”

view more

Republican and Democrat parents are further apart than ever in beliefs over what children should learn in school (Courthouse News)

Courthouse News  online

2022-10-27

Stephen Farnsworth, a political sciences and international affairs professor & director at the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at University of Mary Washington, pointed out how Republican campaigns have capitalized on these anxieties for political gain.

view more

Virginia’s2021governor race echoes into Spanberger-Vega contest

National Journal  online

2022-10-27

“This congressional district in the Washington suburbs is about as nationalized a congressional district as any in the country,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a professor and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington, which is located in the district. “An awful lot of people in the district follow what’s going on in Washington very closely. They may be federal retirees, federal workers, federal contractors.”

Inflation, fears about democracy driving 2022 midterm wave

Courthouse News  online

2022-10-27

“If this were a conventional election cycle, that would be very bad news for Democrats who have a lot of voter anxiety, polls show, with respect to the economy and inflation,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political science and international affairs at the University of Mary Washington.

view more

The role of affordable housing on this year's election

WVTF  online

2022-10-27

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says these elections will have long-lasting consequences.

view more

Not Up for Debate

Columbia Journalism Review  online

2022-10-26

This was despite the fact that Vega had ducked a separate debate, planned for last month, that was to have been held at the University of Mary Washington (in conjunction with community groups and news outlets) and moderated by Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist there—rejecting plans for Virginia public media to broadcast the debate as insufficient, and taking a potshot at Spanberger’s “college campus” base.

view more

What an "October surprise" looks like in the age of the election season

WVTF  online

2022-10-26

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says that's having a subtle influence over the pacing of campaigns. "An October surprise does no good when you think about all the people who’ve already voted by this point," Farnsworth explains. "You now need a September surprise really to impact the election in the way that an October surprise used to."

view more

Event Appearances (21)

Partisan Trends in Late Night Humor

Virginia Association of Communication Arts and Sciences  Fairfax, VA

2018-04-06

The New Virginia: Politics and the Economy after the 2017 Elections

Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance  Lynchburg, VA

2017-12-14

Reviewing the 2017 Elections in Virginia

Virginia Civics Summit  Chesterfield, VA

2017-11-29

The Trump Presidency, the Mass Media and Public Opinion

The Norwegian Washington Seminar  Washington, DC

2017-10-28

The Identity Crises of the Democratic and Republican Parties

White House Fellows Foundation Leadership Conference  Washington, DC

2017-10-27

Donald Trump and the Late-Night Political Humor of Campaign 2016: All the Donald, All the Time

American Political Science Association  San Francisco, CA

2017-08-31

Virginia’s Candidate Selection Process: Examining Recent Primaries and Conventions

American Legion Boys’ State of Virginia  Radford, VA

2017-06-21

President Obama’s Use of New Media: Enacting the Affordable Care Act and Defining Presidential Character

Western Political Science Association  Vancouver, Canada

2017-04-04

Politics, Media and the American Political System.

Institute for International Education Visitor Leadership Program for International Journalism, U.S. Department of State  Washington, DC

2017-03-02

Media Bias is a Threat to American Democracy

Podius Debates. University of Mary Washington  Fredericksburg, VA

2016-10-26

Digital Media, Public Opinion and the US Presidential Race

BI University  Oslo, Norway

2016-10-12

The Presidential Candidates, the Mass Media and the Angry Voters of 2016

Mary Talks, University of Mary Washington  Fredericksburg, VA

2016-10-03

News Coverage of the 2013 Virginia Governor’s Race Versus Presidential Election News

American Political Science Association  Philadelphia, PA

2016-09-21

A Comparative Analysis of the Partisan Targets of Media Fact-checking

American Political Science Association  Philadelphia, PA

2016-09-14

U.S. Journalism, Public Opinion and Foreign Policy Development

Institute for International Education Visitor Leadership Program for International Journalism, U.S. Department of State  Washington, DC

2016-09-07

Late Night Comics Examine Campaign 2016: Donald Trump Dominates the Jokes

American Political Science Association Pre-Conference in Political Communication  Philadelphia, PA

2016-08-03

Barack Obama and the Rise of the Diffident Presidential Style

Midwest Political Science Association  Chicago, IL

2016-04-07

Studying the Presidency after 9/11: Re-considering Presidential Character in Domestic and International Contexts

9/11 and the Academy Conference at Emory & Henry College  Emory, Va

2015-11-12

Fact-Checking the Fact-Checkers

American Political Science Association  San Francisco, CA

2015-09-10

News Coverage of U.S. Presidential Campaigns: Reporting on Primaries and General Elections, 1988-2012

American Political Science Association,  Washington, D.C.

2014-08-01

The Automated Coding of Sentiment in Political News Coverage: Examining Newspaper Coverage of the 2013 Race for Governor of Virginia

American Political Science Association Pre-Conference in Political Communication,  Washington, D.C.

2014-08-01

Courses (1)

American Government:

Mass Media Politics U.S. Political Parties & Elections The American Presidency US Constitutional Reform US Politics and Film Consuming News: A User’s Guide

Articles (14)

Donald Trump and the Late-Night Political Humor of Campaign 2016: All the Donald, All the Time.

Routledge

Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter, and Deanne Canieso

2018-02-14

The Presidency and Social Media: Discourse, Disruption and Digital Democracy in the 2016 Presidential Election, (Dan Schill and John Allen Hendricks, ed.) New York: Routledge, 2018: 330-45.

This One Map Shows the Republicans’ Problem in Virginia

Washington Post

Stephen J. Farnsworth and Stephen Hanna

2017-11-09

[Opinion column] “This One Map Shows the Republicans’ Problem in Virginia.” (Stephen J. Farnsworth and Stephen Hanna). Washington Post. (“The Monkey Cage” blog). November 9, 2017.

Support for Medicaid in Virginia Keeps Growing

Washington Post

Stephen Farnsworth

2017-10-08

[Opinion column] “Support for Medicaid in Virginia Keeps Growing.” Washington Post. October 8, 2017.

Party Affiliation and Political Class

Greenwood

Benjamin Hermerding and Stephen J. Farnsworth

The American Middle Class: An Economic Encyclopedia of Progress and Poverty (R.S. Rycroft, ed.). Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2017: 476-9.

Virginia’s 2013 Gubernatorial Race and Presidential Elections: A Comparison of News Coverage.

The Virginia News Letter

Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter

2017-08-01

The Virginia News Letter. Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia. 92(3): 1-8 (August 2016).

News coverage of Trump is really, really negative. Even on Fox News

Washington Post

Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter, and Roland Schatz

2017-02-28

[ Opinion column] “News coverage of Trump is really, really negative. Even on Fox News.” (Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter, and Roland Schatz.)Washington Post. (“The Monkey Cage” blog). February 28, 2017.

Donald Trump will probably be the most ridiculed president ever

Washington Post

Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter, and Deanne Canieso

2017-01-21

[Opinion column] “Donald Trump will probably be the most ridiculed president ever.” Stephen J. Farnsworth, S. Robert Lichter, and Deanne Canieso.Washington Post. (“The Monkey Cage” blog). January 21, 2017.

Farnsworth Published by "The Fix" Blog, Washington Post

The Washington Post

2016-03-08

Stephen Farnsworth is co-author of an opinion column, “Late Night Tells Three Times as Many Jokes about 2016 Republicans as Democrats,” published by "The Fix" blog of the Washington Post.

view more

“The 2015 Election in Virginia: A Tribute to Gerrymandering.”

The Washington Post

2015-11-05

A map by Stephen Hanna, professor of geography, and a column by Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, which both discussed the recent state legislative elections were published in "The Fix" blog of The Washington Post. The column was titled “The 2015 Election in Virginia: A Tribute to Gerrymandering.”

view more

With Overwhelming Support for Nonpartisan Redistricting, Virginians are Studying Ways to Make That Happen

The Virginia News Letter

2015-06-27

Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia

view more

An Extended Presidential Honeymoon: Coverage of Barack Obama in The New York Times during 2009 and 2010

Politics and Policy

2015-06-01

(Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter). Politics and Policy 41 (3): 447-463 (June 2013).

view more

Virginia Voters and Decentralized Governmental Power: Federal Frustration and State Satisfaction?

Virginia Social Science Journal

2015-05-01

Virginia Voters and Decentralized Governmental Power: Federal Frustration and State Satisfaction?

Event-Driven Environmental News in the U.S. and Canada

Electronic Media and Politics

2012-11-01

(Stuart Soroka, Stephen J. Farnsworth, Lori Young and Andrea Lawlor). Electronic Media and Politics 1(10): 143-57 (November 2012).

view more

Authors’ Response: Improving News Coverage in the 2012 Presidential Campaign and Beyond

Politics & Policy

2012-08-01

(Stephen J. Farnsworth and S. Robert Lichter). Politics & Policy 40(4): 547-556 (August 2012).

view more