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School of Politics and International Relations

Dr Richard Johnson, BA (Cambridge), MPhil (Oxford), DPhil (Oxford)


Senior Lecturer in US Politics & Policy

Room Number: Arts One, 2.01
Twitter: @richardmarcj
Office Hours: Semester A 2022: Tuesdays, 3-4pm (In-person), Wednesdays, 9-10am (Online)


Richard Johnson joined Queen Mary as Lecturer in US Politics & Policy in 2020. Previously, he was a lecturer at Lancaster University. He has held visiting research and teaching positions at Yale University, Cambridge University, and Beijing Foreign Studies University. He studied at Cambridge (Jesus College) and Oxford (Nuffield College), where he taught tutorials on US and comparative politics.

Richard Johnson’s main research centres on race and democracy in the United States. This was the subject of his book The End of the Second Reconstruction, which uncovers the role of political violence, federalism, and the federal judiciary in sabotaging civil rights from the Civil War to the Trump presidency. He has published academic research on elections and campaigning in the US, including on the Voting Rights Act, the communication strategies of African American candidates, Black nationalism and electoral politics, fundraising strategies of working-class candidates, and the role of presidents in midterm elections, as well as on racially polarised partisanship, ‘white flight’ from the Democratic Party, and the Trump administration’s policies on voting rights and incarceration.

Additionally, he has written about policy and the policymaking process in the US, including the reception of private school vouchers in urban communities, school district secession and its impact on school re-segregation (with Desmond King), an analysis of Donald Trump’s use of Twitter to bypass standard executive branch decision-making procedures (with Osman Sahin and Umut Korkut), the conservative policy bias of US Senate malapportionment (with Lisa Miller), and efforts in the US to impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s (with Sam Mallinson). He is also the author of a textbook, US Foreign Policy: Domestic Roots and International Impact.

Another area of interest is UK politics, especially Labour Party history. He has published academic research on Labour’s changing policy on Europe under Neil Kinnock, the history of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, Theresa May’s record on LGBT rights, and Jeremy Corbyn’s foreign policy outlook (with Mark Garnett). He has written profiles of prominent Labour figures for Tribune, including Michael Foot, Barbara Castle, Peter Shore, and Anne Kerr, as well as a reflection on Englishness and the Left. He is (with Yuan Yi Zhu) the co-editor of the book Sceptical Perspectives on the Changing Constitution of the United Kingdom and contributed a chapter on the ‘Case for the Political Constitution’. He has also published academic research (with Ron Johnston and Iain McLean) on proportional representation.

Current focused projects include a comparative analysis of ‘busing’ in the US and UK, a study of the first Black candidates to stand for office in majority-white states, sectarianism and negative partisanship in the US, an analysis of voting trends among Hispanic/Latino voters, and a textbook on US Politics. He is also writing a book on the history of Labour Euroscepticism.

Office hour joining link 

Undergraduate Teaching

POL254 - US Politics

POL399 – Race and US Politics

POLM100 – US Public Policy


Research Interests:

Richard Johnson’s research focuses on race and democracy in the United States. Research interests include the US Constitution and political institutions (Congress, the presidency, the courts, federalism), elections and campaigns, partisanship and polarisation, and representation. He also researches UK Labour Party history, Labour’s relationship with Europe, and the British constitution.

Examples of research funding:

  • Churchill Archives By-Fellow (Churchill College, Cambridge University) (2022)
  • Policy Entrepreneur Grant for research on the history of Euroscepticism in the Labour Party (2020)
  • Quality-Related Research Strategic Priorities Fund Grant (Research England) for a project on UK constitutional reform (2020)
  • Political Studies Association (PSA) APSA Panel Award (2020)
  • British Association for American Studies (BAAS) Teaching American Studies Grant (2019)
  • Research Travel Grant from the University of Kansas (Bob Dole Institute) for research about the renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 1982 (2016)



US Politics: The Search for Power (Bloomsbury, under contract)

With YUAN YI ZHU (eds), Sceptical Perspectives on the Changing Constitution of the United Kingdom (Hart, 2023)

US Foreign Policy: Domestic Roots and International Impact (Bristol University Press, 2021)

The End of the Second Reconstruction: Obama, Trump, and the Crisis of Civil Rights (Polity, 2020)


with LISA MILLER, ‘The Conservative Policy Bias of Senate Malapportionment’, PS: Political Science and Politics (in press).

‘School Choice as Community Disempowerment: Racial Rhetoric about Voucher Policy in Urban America’, Urban Affairs Review 58:2 (2022), 563-596.

‘The 1982 Voting Rights Extension as a Critical Juncture: Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole, and Republican Party-Building’, Studies in American Political Development 35:2 (2021), 223-238.

with UMUT KORKUT & OSMAN SAHIN, ‘Policy-making by Tweets: Discursive Governance, Populism, and the Trump Presidency’, Contemporary Politics 27 (2021), 591-610.

with DESMOND KING, ‘Race Was a Motivating Factor: Re-segregated schools in the American states’, Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy 35:1 (2019), 75-95.

‘Proudly for Brooke: Race-Conscious Campaigning in 1960s Massachusetts’, Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics 3:2 (Sept 2018), 261-292.

‘Hamilton’s Deracialization: Barack Obama’s Racial Politics in Context’, Du Bois Review 14:2 (Fall 2017), 621-638

with RON JOHNSTON and IAIN McLEAN, ‘Overrepresenting UKIP, Underrepresenting the Greens and Lib Dems: The 2014 European Elections in Great Britain’, Representation (2014) 50:4, 429-437.


The Case for the Political Constitution’ (with Yuan Yi Zhu) in R Johnson & YY Zhu (eds) Sceptical Perspectives on the Changing Constitution of the United Kingdom (Hart, forthcoming, 2023)

‘The European Parliamentary Labour Party: From Anti to Pro’ in D Hayter (ed) British MEPs: The Lost Tribe (Harper, forthcoming, 2022)

‘The Favourite Son’s Favourites: Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Home State Effect in Midterm Elections’ in R Mason & M McLay (eds) Midterms and Mandates (Edinburgh University Press, 2022)

‘Neil Kinnock and Labour’s European Policy’ in K Hickson (ed) Neil Kinnock: Saving the Labour Party? (Routledge, 2022)

with MARK GARNETT, ‘Corbyn’s Foreign Policy’ in A Roe-Crines (ed) Corbynism in Perspective: The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn (Agenda, 2021)

‘Low-Resource Candidates and Fundraising Appeals’ in B Grofman, E Suchay, & A Treschel (eds) Oxford Handbook of Electoral Persuasion (Oxford University Press, 2019)

‘Racial Policy Under Trump’ in M Oliva & M Shanahan (eds) The Trump Presidency: From Campaign Trail to World Stage (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

‘Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration’ in G Peele, C Bailey, J Herbert, B Cain, & B G Peters (eds) Developments in American Politics 8, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

'Racially Polarised Partisanship and the Obama Presidency’ in E Ashbee & J Dumbrell (eds) The Obama Presidency and the Politics of Change, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).


Current PhD Students:

Darren Bowes (Lancaster), Eisenhower, Education, and Civil Rights 

Matthew Schlachter (UCL), The Role of Moderates in the US Republican Party


I would be interested in supervising PhD students on topics relating to US domestic politics, including elections, campaigns, political parties, public policy, and political institutions, especially with a dimension on race. Historically minded and APD (American Political Development) proposals are particularly welcomed.

Public Engagement

I regularly provide public commentary on matters relating to US and UK politics. Below is a sample of my work for print and online audiences, as well as samples of television, radio, and podcast appearances.

Commissioned Publications


The Globe Post

The Guardian

The Independent

Political Insight

The Telegraph



Academic Blogs (selection)

Briefings for Brexit

The Conversation

Democratic Audit

Discover Society

The Interpreter (Lowy Institute, Australia)

The Loop (European Consortium for Political Research)

LSE US Politics & Policy Blog

Lux et Data, Institution for Social & Policy Studies (Yale)

Mile End Institute

Open Democracy

OxPol (Oxford University Politics Department Blog)

Political Studies Association


Public Seminar

Transforming Society

The UK in a Changing Europe (ESRC funded blog on the EU Referendum)




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