Stranger in a Strange State

The Politics of Carpetbagging from Robert Kennedy to Scott Brown

By Christopher J. Galdieri

Subjects: Electoral Politics, American Politics, Political Science
Hardcover : 9781438474038, 252 pages, May 2019
Paperback : 9781438474021, 252 pages, January 2020

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

1. Don’t Be a Stranger

2. Representation, Localism, Ambition, and Party

3. Robert Kennedy: New York, 1964

4. Hillary Rodham Clinton: New York, 2000

5. Two Would-Be Two-State Senators

6. Four Lesser-Known Carpetbaggers

7. Scott Brown: New Hampshire, 2014


Examines why some politicians take the drastic step of becoming a carpetbagger and how that shapes their campaigns and chances for victory.


Candidates normally run for office in the places where they live. Occasionally, however, a politician will run as a carpetbagger—someone who moves to a new state for the express purpose of running, or who runs in one state after holding office in another. Stranger in a Strange State examines what makes some politicians take this drastic step and how that shapes their campaigns and chances for victory. Focusing on races for the US Senate from 1964 forward, Christopher J. Galdieri analyzes the campaigns of nine carpetbaggers, including nationally known figures such as Robert F. Kennedy and Hillary Rodham Clinton and less well-known candidates like Elizabeth Cheney and Scott Brown. These case studies draw on archival research, contemporaneous accounts of each campaign, and scholarship on campaigns and representation. While the record reveals that it generally takes national political stature for a carpetbagger to win an election, some recent campaigns suggest that in today's polarized political era, both politicians and state political parties might want to be more open to the prospect of carpetbagging.

Christopher J. Galdieri is Associate Professor of Politics at Saint Anselm College. He is the coeditor (with Jennifer C. Lucas and Tauna S. Sisco) of several books, including Conventional Wisdom, Parties, and Broken Barriers in the 2016 Election; The Role of Twitter in the 2016 US Election; Political Communication & Strategy: Consequences of the 2014 Midterm Elections; and Races, Reforms, & Policy: Implications of the 2014 Midterm Elections.


"This is a fascinating book, compelling the reader to turn the page to learn more about political parties, politicians, campaigns, ambition, and how much of this might fit within our polarized political landscape. " — New Books Network

"Galdieri's book brings both life and systematic analysis to his case studies. It also takes on the concept of political ambition, seriously engaging the role of political parties in shaping and mitigating ambition. Highly recommended for anyone interested in American parties and elections. " — Julia R. Azari, coeditor of The Presidential Leadership Dilemma: Between the Constitution and a Political Party

"This will be the go-to book any time prominent politicians strike out for new territory. " — Ross K. Baker, author of Is Bipartisanship Dead? A Report from the Senate