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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: ArtsOne, 2.01
Twitter: @richardmarcj


Richard Johnson joined Queen Mary 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 (Polity, 2020), 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. He is currently writing a textbook on US politics (under contract with Bloomsbury) and a book about the first Black candidates to stand for office in predominantly white electorates between 1966 and 2006 (under contract with Columbia University Press).

Additionally, he has published academic articles 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), 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), the US campaign to impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s (with Sam Mallinson), and the judicial politics of abortion. He is also the author of a textbook, US Foreign Policy: Domestic Roots and International Impact (Bristol University Press, 2021).

Another area of interest is UK politics, especially Labour Party history. He is the co-author (with Mark Garnett & Gavin Hyman) of Keeping the Red Flag Flying: The Labour Party in Opposition since 1922 (Polity, 2024). He has published academic research on British women’s opposition to the Common Market, 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 (Hart, 2023) 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 projects include a study of ethnic minority voting patterns and the Republican party; ‘political sectarianism’ and US partisanship; a comparative analysis of ‘busing’ in the US, UK, and France; a comparative history of British and American abortion politics; and several outputs related to the history of Labour Euroscepticism.


POL254 - US Politics

On research leave in Semester B 2024


Research Interests:

US politics, especially race and elections, partisanship, voting behaviour, judicial power, policymaking, federalism

UK politics, especially Labour Party history, Britain and the European Union, and the British constitution

Examples of research funding:

  • BA/Leverhulme Small Grant for project on the comparative politics of busing in the US, UK, and France (2023-24)
  • Research England Talent and Research Stabilisation Fund for project on the political constitution (2023)
  • 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)



Neither Militant Nor Moderate: Black Candidates, White Voters, and Racial Campaign Strategies (Columbia University Press)

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

Keeping the Red Flag Flying: Labour in Opposition since 1922 (Polity, under contract), with Mark Garnett & Gavin Hyman

Sceptical Perspectives on the Changing Constitution of the United Kingdom (Bloomsbury/Hart, 2023), with YY Zhu (eds)

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)

Camaraderie: One Hundred Years of the Cambridge Labour Party, 1912-2012 (Labour Party, 2012), with Ashley Walsh, 2017).

Peer-Reviewed Articles

‘Women Against the Common Market’, Journal of Contemporary British History (2023)

‘The Discourses of the Anti-Apartheid Sanctions Movement in the United States, 1972-1986’, Safundi (2023), with Samuel Mallinson

‘The Conservative Policy Bias of US Senate Malapportionment’, PS: Political Science and Politics 56:1 (2023), with Lisa Miller

Dobbs v Jackson and the Revival of the States’ Rights Constitution’, Political Quarterly 93:4 (2022), 612-619

‘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

‘Policy-making by Tweets: Discursive Governance, Populism, and the Trump Presidency’, Contemporary Politics 27 (2021), with Umut Korkut & Osman Sahin

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

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

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

‘Overrepresenting UKIP, Underrepresenting the Greens and Lib Dems: The 2014 European Elections in Great Britain’, Representation 50:4 (2014), with Iain McLean & Ron Johnston

Chapters in edited volumes

‘Midterm Elections and the Modern Presidency: Parliamentary Party Leadership in a Separation of Powers System’ in R Duda & M Turek (eds) The Crossroads Election: European Perspectives on the 2022 Midterm Elections in the United States (Routledge, forthcoming)

‘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, 2023)

‘Theresa May and LGBT Rights’ in A Roe-Crines (ed) Statecraft: The Leadership of Theresa May (Palgrave, 2023)

‘The European Parliamentary Labour Party: From Anti to Pro’ in D Hayter & D Hartley (eds) The Forgotten Tribe: British MEPs, 1979-2020 (Harper, 2022)

‘The Favourite Son’s Favourites: Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Home State Effect in the 1982 Midterm Elections’ in P Andelic, M McLay, R 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)

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

‘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 (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 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018)

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


Current PhD Students:

Darren Bowes, The Eisenhower Administration and the School Desegregation Crisis, 1954-57 (external supervisor, Lancaster University, Northwest ESRC Doctoral Training Studentship, 2019-23)

Matthew Schlachter, Saving the RINO: The Survival of Moderates in the Republican Party (external supervisor, UCL, 2021-)


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.

I would also be interested in supervising PhD students writing on British Labour Party history and politics, especially with reference to the European Union, and on the British constitution, especially the idea of the ‘political’ constitution.

Public Engagement

Commissioned Publications

The Critic


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)

Media (selection)

American History Too (‘The Pioneers: Black Candidates Before Obama’, Oct 2017) 

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