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US Presidential Elections and Foreign PolicyUS Presidential Elections and Foreign Policy

Candidates, Campaigns, and Global Politics from FDR to Bill Clinton

Edited by Andrew Johnstone

Narrated by Jim Woods

Available from Audible

Book published by The University Press of Kentucky

While domestic issues loom large in voters' minds during American presidential elections, matters of foreign policy have consistently shaped candidates and their campaigns. From the start of World War II through the collapse of the Soviet Union, presidential hopefuls needed to be perceived as credible global leaders in order to win elections―regardless of the situation at home―and voter behavior depended heavily on whether the nation was at war or peace. Yet there is little written about the importance of foreign policy in US presidential elections or the impact of electoral issues on the formation of foreign policy.

In US Presidential Elections and Foreign Policy, a team of international scholars examines how the relationship between foreign policy and electoral politics evolved through the latter half of the twentieth century. Covering all presidential elections from 1940 to 1992―from debates over American entry into World War II to the aftermath of the Cold War―the contributors correct the conventional wisdom that domestic issues and the economy are always definitive. Together they demonstrate that, while international concerns were more important in some campaigns than others, foreign policy always matters and is often decisive. This illuminating commentary fills a significant gap in the literature on presidential and electoral politics, emphasizing that candidates' positions on global issues have a palpable impact on American foreign policy.

Andrew Johnstone is associate professor of American history at the University of Leicester. He is the author of Against Immediate Evil: American Internationalists and the Four Freedoms on the Eve of World War II.


“This book is part of an important trend in examining the connection between domestic policies and foreign policy. Its chapters will have enduring relevance.”

—Elizabeth N. Saunders, author of Leaders at War: How Presidents Shape Military Interventions

“With straightforward organization ― each chapter covers one campaign ― the book makes an illuminating foray into how US domestic politics may inform its foreign policy, as well as how events abroad may sometimes shape election outcomes.”


“Johnson and Priest have provided readers with a comprehensive volume that sets out a clear baseline for the relationship between US presidential elections and foreign policy. The contributions to this volume not only make their historiographical interventions clear, they also raise questions that will force us to continue to consider closely the relationship between politics and foreign relations in future scholarship.”


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