Dennis Johnson

Professor Emeritus

Dennis W. Johnson is Professor Emeritus of Political Management and was Director of the Masters program in Legislative Management (1993-2000) and Associate Dean (1993-2006) of the Graduate School of Political Management. Before coming to GW and the GSPM, he ran his own political consulting firm (1989-1993), and was chief of staff to a member of Congress. He also served on the staff of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Dr. Johnson has also taught at Virginia Commonwealth University and Augustana College in South Dakota.  


At GW, he has specialized in campaigns and elections, professional political consulting, and domestic public policy. Dr. Johnson is the author of six books, including the path-breaking No Place for Amateurs (Routledge, 2001, 2007, 2014) and the definitive history of political consulting, Democracy for Hire (Oxford, 2009). He is also the editor of four other books, including three on the most recent presidential elections. He has been a frequent commentator on presidential elections on news outlets in the United States and abroad.  


At the GSPM, he received a two-year grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts to study the impact of digital democracy on Congress, and received a Fulbright faculty grant as Distinguished Professor at Jinan University, Guangzhou, China (2010-2011).


B.A., Carleton College

M.A., Duke University

Ph.D, Duke University



Campaigns and Elections: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford, 2019)

Democracy for Hire: A History of American Political Consulting (Oxford, 2017)

Campaigning in the Twentieth Century, 2d ed. (Routledge, 2014)

Political Consultants and American Elections 3rd ed. (formerly No Place for Amateurs) (Routledge, 2014)

The Laws that Shaped America (Routledge, 2009)

Congress Online (Routledge, 2004)

Campaigning for President 2016 (co-edited with Lara Brown) (Routledge, 2017)

Campaigning for President 2012 (edited) (Routledge, 2013)

Campaigning for President 2008 (edited) (Routledge, 2019)

Routledge Handbook on Political Management (edited) (Routledge, 2009)


Peer-Reviewed Articles

“American Political Campaigning and Twenty-first Century Politics,” Journal of Political Marketing (28 pp.) (2012).

“The Formative Years of Political Consulting in America, 1934-2000,” Journal of Political Marketing (22 pp.) (2012).

“The U.S. Congress Responds to Online Communication Needs,” Journal of Political Marketing, vol. 2, no. 3/4, 235-254.  Co-published in Gregory G. Curtin, Michael H. Sommer, and Veronika Vis-Sommer, The World of E-Government (Haworth, 2003).

“Perspectives in Political Consulting,” Journal of Political Marketing, vol. 1, no. 1 (October 2002), 7-21.

“Elections and Public Polling: Will the Media Get Online Polling Right?” Journal of Psychology and Marketing, vol. 19, no. 12 (November 2002), 1009-1023.

“2000 Elections: Perspectives on the Closest Presidential Election in U.S. History,” Journal of Political Marketing, vol. 1, no. 3 (February 2003), 69-88.  Also co-published in Bruce I. Newman and Dejan Vercic, eds., Communication of Politics: Cross-Cultural Theory Building in the Practice of Public Relations and Political Marketing (Haworth, 2002).


Book Chapters

“The Election of 2016,” in Dennis W. Johnson and Lara Brown, eds., Campaigning for President 2016 (Routledge, 2017). 

“The Election of 2012,” in Dennis W. Johnson, ed., Campaigning for President 2012 (Routledge, 2013).

“Campaigning in the Twenty-first Century: Change and Continuity in American Political Marketing,” in Jennifer Lees-Marshment, ed., Routledge Handbook on Political Marketing (Routledge, 2011).

“Grassroots, Astroturf, and Internet Lobbying,” in Burdett Loomis, ed., Lobbying in the United States (CQ Press, 2011).

“An Election Like No Other?” and “Ten Plays that Won (and Lost) the Presidency,” chapters in Dennis W. Johnson, ed. Campaigning for President 2008 (Routledge, 2009).

“American Political Consulting,” chapter in Dennis W. Johnson, ed., Routledge Handbook on Political Management (Routledge, August 2008).

“Campaigning and the Internet,” chapter in Stephen C. Craig, ed., Electoral Challenge: Theory Meets Practice (CQ Books, 2006).

“First Hurdles: The Evolution of the Pre-Primary and Primary Stages of American Presidential Elections,” chapter in Philip John Davies and Bruce I. Newman, eds., Winning Elections with Political Marketing (Haworth, 2006).

“Connecting with Constituents,” chapter in James A. Thurber and Colton Campbell, eds., Congress and the Internet (Prentice-Hall, 2003).

“The Business of Political Consulting,” chapter in James A. Thurber and Candice J. Nelson, eds., Campaign Warriors: Political Consultants in Elections (Brookings, 2000).

“The Cyber-Space Election of the Future,” chapter Bruce I. Newman, ed., Handbook of Political Marketing (Sage, 1999).


Other Writings

“Political Management,” in International Encyclopedia of Political Communications (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). 2,000-word entry.

“Campaign Consultants,” in Princeton Encyclopedia of American Politics (Princeton University Press, 2010). 10,000-word entry.

“Political Consultants,” in Oxford Encyclopedia on Campaigns and Elections (Oxford University Press, 2011). 2,000-word entry.