Stephen Farnsworth profile photo

Stephen Farnsworth

Professor of Political Science and International Affairs

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

Image for publication on Late Night with Trump: Political Humor and the American PresidencyImage for publication on Presidential Communication and Character: White House News Management from Clinton and Cable to Twitter and TrumpImage for publication on The Nightly News Nightmare: Media Coverage of U.S. Presidential Elections, 1988-2008Image for publication on The Global President: International Media and the US GovernmentImage for publication on Spinner in Chief: How Presidents Sell Their Policies and Themselves (Media and Power)Image for publication on Political Support in a Frustrated AmericaImage for publication on The Mediated Presidency: Television News and Presidential Governance

Documents

Photos

photos photos photos

Audio/Podcasts

Video

Image for vimeo videos on Stephen Farnsworth Discusses 'The Global President' - Virginia Festival of the Book 2014Image for vimeo videos on UMW's Stephen Farnsworth: Current ResearchImage for vimeo videos on Virginia politics, explainedImage for vimeo videos on How President Obama Wins VirginiaImage for vimeo videos on Electoral College Talk with Stephen FarnsworthImage for vimeo videos on UMW Reunion Weekend Speakers | Dr. Stephen Farnsworth & Andrew Painter | Mary Talks

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

American ElectionsAmerican GovernmentThe American PresidencyInternet PoliticsMass Media and PoliticsVirginia Government and PoliticsJournalism

Accomplishments

Waple Research Professorship | professional

Awarded for outstanding research in political science.

2018-03-31

Farnsworth Receives Outstanding Faculty Award | professional

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).

2017-01-04

Farnsworth Receives National Political Science Association Award | professional

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.

2016-09-13

Recipient, Distinguished Communicator Award | professional

Awarded by the Virginia Association of Communication Arts and Sciences.

2016-04-10

Best Conference Paper Award in Political Communication | professional

Eastern Communication Association

2011-04-01

Best Conference Paper Award in Political Communication | professional

Southern States Communication Association

2009-04-01

J. William Fulbright Research Chair in Public Policy | professional

McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

2006-01-01

Outstanding Young Faculty Member Award | professional

Awarded by the Alumni Association of Mary Washington College.

2001-01-01

Mary W. Pinschmidt Teaching Award | professional

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

1999-01-01

Richard Palmieri Outstanding Professor Award | professional

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

1999-01-01

Education

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

  • 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

Glenn Youngkin’s MAGA-Lite Image Isn’t Going to Win Over the GOP

UK Times  online

2022-10-03

Youngkin was elected governor in Virginia on the basis of being “Trump-adjacent,” says Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, “sympathetic to the concerns of Trump voters without being the kind of dyed-in-the-wool culture warrior who would have crashed and burned in a Virginia election.”

view more

Biden's Popularity Rises

CTV News  online

2022-09-29

"That comes in above all from the improvement in Biden's poll ratings and perhaps in the decision of the abortion issue by the Supreme Court," said Stephen Farnsworth.

view more

New poll shows voters split between Kaine and Youngkin in hypothetical Senate race

WRIC  online

2022-09-29

“Governor Youngkin has been building his national profile in recent weeks as he campaigns for Republican candidates around the country, and that could help him if he chooses to run for the Senate,” Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and director of UMW’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, said in a statement accompanying the poll.

view more

Early voting begins with 'steady trickle' in key Virginia congressional races

Richmond Times-Dispatch  online

2022-09-26

Those largely suburban districts represent “the kind of place where elections are going to be won and lost across the country,” said Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, the heart of the newly drawn 7th.

view more

No thanks, PAC man

Augusta Free Press  online

2022-09-19

“Those committees have to spread money out to a lot of races around the country. And Republicans traditionally have been better funded than Democrats. So Democrats in the House and Senate are very concerned about not being outspent. That’s less of a concern for Obama, who of course was able to generate far more money in this election cycle than any candidate from either party. When the money is coming in by the barrel, you don’t need to worry about PAC money,” Farnsworth said.

view more

New congressional districts add uncertainty to Virginia midterm elections

The Roanoke Times  online

2022-09-07

“The new 7th District is so intertwined as an I-95 district that talking about infrastructure is a good thing,” said Stephen Farnsworth, director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies at the University of Mary Washington, in the heart of the district in Fredericksburg.

view more

Biden's 'Soul of the Nation' Speech

CTV News  online

2022-09-06

"There is no doubt about it. Everyday we learn that Donald Trump was more casual, more reckless with his national security secrets than we thought the day before," said Stephen Farnsworth.

view more

'People are in a bad situation.' Inflation looms large as Democrats try to hold pivotal toss-up seat. (Boston Globe)

Boston Globe  online

2022-08-29

The once-a-decade redrawing of congressional boundaries made Spanberger’s district more Democratic this year by adding communities closer to Washington and removing Republican-leaning areas farther south around Richmond, said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg.

view more

Details on Trump FBI Search Released

CTV News  online

2022-08-29

"What we see here is a pretty compelling case to be made that there is a lot of classified information that has been in the President's possession despite laws requiring it to be turned over to the government," said Stephen Farnsworth.

view more

Democrats tout their health care bonafides in midterm stretch run

Axios  online

2022-08-26

"One of the reasons why the health care bill isn't going to have as much of an immediate impact is its going to take time for the consequences to take shape in the electorate ... the new Medicare rules will be a huge impact on their finances but it's not clear how visible that will be right away," said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington.

view more

Republicans Running for Statehouse Seats Sharpen Attacks on Public Education

Route-Fifty.com  online

2022-08-26

"Any success politically is going to be replicated elsewhere so it's entirely predictable that what worked in Virginia will be employed in other purple states around the county,'' said Stephen J. Farnsworth, a professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. “Polls show a lot of people are pretty happy with the job the schools do but … a narrative doesn’t have to be true for it to be effective in politics.”

view more

Spanberger flips the script on policing in race against auxiliary deputy

The Washington Post  online

2022-08-22

Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, said that while Republicans have had a firm hold on the “law-and-order” messaging in recent decades, Jan. 6 may have changed that. Now, he said, Democrats have an opening to undermine their Republican opponents’ professed commitment to law-and-order and flip the script on them — exactly what Spanberger has sought to do.

view more

‘The Problem With Jon Stewart’ Has a Problem — With Ratings

The Wrap  online

2022-07-25

“There’s no doubt Jon Stewart made much more of a splash in public discourse 20 years ago than he’s making today,” Stephen Farnsworth, co-author of a book about late-night TV shows during the Trump era, told Bloomberg.

view more

No debates, few interviews: why experts say it’s harder to get to know candidates ahead of key elections

KMOV4  online

2022-07-21

“It is a sign of weakness and disrespect for the voters for candidates to skip debates,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington and expert on media and politics. He told News 4′s he’s seeing a trend among candidates and incumbents.

view more

A Collision of Economics and History: In Pennsylvania, the Debate Over Climate is a Bitter One – Inside Climate News

Reporting Wings  online

2022-07-18

“There’s no question that environmental issues are far more critical for younger voters,” said Steven Farnsworth, the political scientist who is director of University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies in Virginia. “This has been going on since the first Earth Day. It has to do with the fact that younger people are going to be on this planet longer than older people.”

view more

On campaign-style trip to New Hampshire, Md. Gov. Hogan warns GOP against ‘cheap imitation’ of Trump

WTOP  online

2022-07-14

University of Mary Washington professor Stephen Farnsworth, an expert on the presidency and the media, said New England represents the perfect place for Hogan to test-drive themes he might use on the campaign trail two years from now.

view more

Democratic candidates go all in on abortion with testimonials about getting the procedure

The Washington Times  online

2022-07-14

Stephen J. Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, said the personalization of the abortion message could help Democrats “bring the issue away from the courts and into consequences that related to real people — including potentially people in one’s own family.”

view more

Event Appearances

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

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

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