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Justin S. Vaughn

Justin Vaughn, Political Science, studio portraitAssociate Professor, Director, Center for Idaho History and Politics
Environmental Research Building 5123
(208) 426-2515

Office Hours

Spring 2018: By Appointment Only


  • POLS 494:
    • Dig Storytell: Voice to Margin (3/3-3/4)
    • Policy Advocacy (4/14-4/15)
    • Political Advertising (2/3-2/4)
    • Survey Research & Design (1/27-1/28)


Professor Justin Vaughn focuses his research and teaching on American political institutions, with an emphasis on executive politics. He is the Director of the Center for Idaho History & Politics and Editor of The Blue Review, an online journal of popular scholarship. He currently serves on the executive council of the Pacific Northwest Political Science Association. Dr. Vaughn earned his Ph.D. in Political Science at Texas A&M University and his BS and MS in Political Science at Illinois State University.

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Vaughn’s Curriculum Vitae.


Dr. Justin Vaughn is co-author of Czars in the White House: The Rise of Policy Czars as a Presidential Management Tool (University of Michigan Press, 2015) and co-editor of Poli Sci Fi: An Introduction to Political Science through Science Fiction (Routledge, 2016). He is also co-editor of three volumes related to the presidency and political communication: Controlling the Message: New Media in American Political Campaigns (NYU Press, 2015); The Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency (Texas A&M University Press, 2014); and Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), which won both the PCA/ACA Susan Koppelman Award and the SWPACA Peter C. Rollins Award in 2014.

Dr. Vaughn has published extensively on the American presidency, including articles in journals such as Public Administration, Political Research Quarterly, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Review of Policy Research, and Administration & Society as well as numerous book chapters. Vaughn has conducted research at several presidential libraries (including JFK, Nixon, Bush I, and Clinton) and lectured in numerous venues across the nation and abroad, including Ohio State University, Vanderbilt University, Washington State University, Hong Kong University, the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at Freie University in Berlin, Germany, Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, and Ural State University in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Dr. Vaughn’s current research continues his focus on executive politics. Dr. Vaughn’s current research continues his focus on executive politics. In addition to an ongoing project on presidential greatness with Brandon Rottinghaus (University of Houston), he is at work on a book-length project concerning the rise of the post-rhetorical presidency.


Book Cover. Poli Sci Fi

Poli Sci Fi: An Introduction to Political Science through Science Fiction

Poli Sci Fi: An Introduction to Political Science through Science Fiction allows readers, students, and instructors to explore the multiple worlds of science fiction while gaining a firm grasp of core political science concepts. This carefully composed text is comprised of sixteen brief chapters, each of which takes a prominent science fiction film or television episode and uses it to explore fundamental components of political science. The book is designed to serve as a supplemental text for undergraduate political science courses, especially Introduction to Political Science. The structure and content of the volume is shaped around the organization and coverage of several leading texts in this area, and includes major parts devoted to theory and epistemology, political behavior, institutions, identity, states, and inter-state relations. Its emphasis on science fiction―and particularly on popular movies and television programs―speaks to the popularity of the genre as well as the growing understanding that popular culture can be an extraordinarily successful vehicle for communicating difficult yet foundational concepts, especially to introductory level college students.


Controlling the Message: New Media in American Political CampaignsMessage Cover

From the presidential race to the battle for the office of New York City mayor, American political candidates’ approach to new media strategy is increasingly what makes or breaks their campaign. Targeted outreach on Facebook and Twitter, placement of a well-timed viral ad, and the ability to roll with the memes, flame wars, and downvotes that might spring from ordinary citizens’ engagement with the issues—these skills are heralded as crucial for anyone hoping to get their views heard in a chaotic election cycle. But just how effective are the kinds of media strategies that American politicians employ? And what effect, if any, do citizen-created political media have on the tide of public opinion?


rhetoric_picThe Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency (Presidential Rhetoric and Political Communication

Campaign rhetoric helps candidates to get elected, but its effects last well beyond the counting of the ballots; this was perhaps never truer than in Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Did Obama create such high expectations that they actually hindered his ability to enact his agenda? Should we judge his performance by the scale of the expectations his rhetoric generated, or against some other standard?The Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency grapples with these and other important questions.


Women_PicWomen and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics

The president of the United States traditionally serves as a symbol of power, virtue, ability, dominance, popularity, and patriarchy. In recent years, however, the high-profile candidacies of Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Bachmann have provoked new interest in gendered popular culture and how it influences Americans’ perceptions of the country’s highest political office.

With its strong, multidisciplinary approach, Women and the White House commences a wider discussion about the possibility of a female president in the United States, the ways in which popular perceptions of gender will impact her leadership, and the cultural challenges she will face.  This book is the winner of the 2014 Susan Koppelman Award by the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association.

Popular Media

Podcast- Czars in the White House- New Books in Political Science, September 7, 2015

Why Presidents Must Play the Hero“- The Monkey Cage, February 17, 2014

President’s Day Guest Opinion- The Idaho Statesman, February 15, 2015