Democracy Disrupted
Communication in the Volatile 2020 Presidential Election
by Benjamin R. Warner, Dianne G. Bystrom, Mitchell S. McKinney, and Mary C. Banwart, Editors
September 2022, 324pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7923-4
$85, £66, 74€, A117
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7924-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

In 2021, for the first time in U.S. history, an armed group of insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol with the intent of preventing a peaceful transition of power.

Leading scholars analyze three disruptions in the 2020 presidential campaign and election: disruptions to the status quo caused by the renewed quest for racial justice and greater diversity of candidates; pandemic disruptions to traditional campaigning; and disruptions to democratic norms.

Democracy Disrupted documents the most significant features of the 2020 U.S. presidential election through research conducted by leading scholars in political communication. Chapters consider the coinciding of three historical events in 2020: a 100-year pandemic co-occurring with the presidential campaign, the reinvigorated call for social and racial justice in response to the killing of George Floyd and other Black men and women, and the authoritarian lurch that emerged in reaction to Donald Trump’s norm-challenging rhetoric. The Democratic Party’s campaign stood out because of the historically diverse field of presidential candidates and the election of the first female vice president.

Chapter authors adopt diverse scientific methodologies and field-leading theories of political communication to understand the way these events forced candidates, campaigns, and voters to adapt to these extraordinary circumstances. Experiments, surveys, case studies, and textual analysis illuminate essential features of this once-in-a-generation campaign. This timely volume is edited by four scholars who have been central to describing and contextualizing each recent presidential contest.


  • Indexes three historic events that coincided to make this an election that will be studied for generations: the pandemic, the insurrection at the capital, and the reinvigoration of the civil rights movement
  • Utilizes the context of the COVID-19 pandemic as a natural experiment to examine long-untested assumptions about campaign effects
  • Includes some of the most prominent and well-respected researchers in the area of political communication as well as emerging scholars who represent a wide range of academic programs
  • Includes diverse studies from all methods of inquiry
Benjamin R. Warner, PhD, is associate professor of communication and director of graduate studies at the University of Missouri. One of the nation's leading experts in political polarization and partisan media effects, he has published articles and book chapters examining the polarizing effects of partisan media, new media echo-chambers, and presidential debates. He also studies the effects of viewing political comedy and discussing politics on social media.

Dianne G. Bystrom, PhD, is director emerita of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. She has contributed to 25 books—most recently as co-editor of ABC-CLIO's Women in the American Political System: An Encyclopedia of Women as Voters, Candidates, and Office Holders and Praeger's An Unprecedented Election: Media, Communication, and the Electorate in the 2016 Campaign—and has published journal articles on gender and political campaigns, the Iowa caucuses, and youth voters.

Mitchell S. McKinney, PhD, is dean of the Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Akron. One of the nation's leading scholars of presidential debates, he is the author or co-author of nine books and numerous journal articles and book chapters. He is also a frequent commentator for national and international media and has provided expert political commentary for such news media as The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, CNN, NPR, and BBC News.

Mary C. Banwart, PhD, is associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, director of the Institute for Leadership Studies, and program director for the Women's Global Leadership Consortium. Her research focuses on political campaign communication and the role of gender in political campaigns. She has authored or co-authored book chapters and journal articles on the influence of gender in candidate presentation styles in political campaigns, the evaluation of female and male candidates, the gender gap, and how gender influences one's likelihood to feel competent to talk about politics.
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Accept All Cookies | Decline.