The American Presidency: Pivotal Elections: Jon Ward

Public | Feb, 15 2024 4:00PM - 5:15PM

The American Presidency: Pivotal Elections: Jon Ward

Americans will go to the polls in a few months to vote in what innumerable commentators are calling a pivotal presidential election, even one of the most consequential in American history. But it’s hardly the first time such claims have been made. Across the last 250 years, many presidential races have featured sharply contrasting agendas, political outlooks, and personal styles, with dire predictions about the nation’s future if one candidate or the other prevailed. How did these races unfold? How did presidential races encapsulate profound cleavages running through the nation? How did the outcomes shape the nation’s future? Looking back at elections from the nation’s past may provide perspective on our own moment.

This six-part virtual series explores these and other questions through lively conversations with eminent historians of American politics and the presidency. Each session will begin with a moderated discussion led by LBJ Library Director Mark Lawrence but will allow ample time for questions from the audience. Over six weeks leading up to President’s Day, we will sweep across American political history by delving into the elections of 1860, 1896, 1948, 1964, 1968, and 1980. We will examine presidents from Abraham Lincoln to Ronald Reagan, exploring the races that elevated them to the Oval Office and the implications of the races they won.

Each session will begin at 4 p.m. and run for about 75 minutes.


Full schedule:

January 11  A.J. Baime, author of Dewey Defeats Truman: The 1948 Election and the Battle for America’s Soul

January 18  Luke Nichter, author of The Year that Broke Politics: Collusion and Chaos in the Presidential Election of 1968

January 25  Edward Achorn, author of The Lincoln Miracle: Inside the Republican Convention that Changed History

February 1  Nancy Beck Young, author of Two Suns of the Southwest: Lyndon Johnson, Barry Goldwater, and the 1964 Battle between Liberalism and Conservatism

February 8  Karl Rove, author of The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1896 Still Matters

February 15 Jon Ward, author of Camelot’s End: The Democrats’ Last Great Civil War



We will be using a Zoom webinar. Each session will begin with a moderated discussion led by LBJ Library Director Mark Lawrence but will allow ample time for questions from the audience.


Advance registration is required. You only need to register once for the series; you do not need to register for each week’s session. Once you register, you can expect to receive an email with a link to join the event. Questions about registration? Email

Register now to join us.


About the speaker:

On February 15, 2024, Jon Ward will join us to talk about the election of 1980.

Jon Ward is senior political correspondent for Yahoo News, author of Testimony: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Failed a Generation (Brazos Press, 2023) and Camelot's End: Kennedy v Carter and the Fight that Broke the Democratic Party (Twelve Books, 2019), and host of “The Long Game” podcast. His Substack newsletter is called "Border Stalkers."

Jon has covered American politics and culture for two decades, as a city desk reporter in Washington D.C., as a White House correspondent who traveled aboard Air Force One to Africa, Europe and the Middle East, and as a national affairs correspondent who has traveled the country to write about two presidential campaigns and the ideas and people animating our times. He has been published in The Washington Post, The New Republic, Politico Magazine, Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, and The Washington Times.

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