Guian McKee

Fast Facts

  • Works on the Presidential Recordings Project
  • Expertise on Health Care Policy, Medicare, Medicaid, Urban Policy, the War on Poverty, the Great Society, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy


Areas Of Expertise

  • Health
  • Law and Justice
  • Race and Racism
  • Social Issues

Guian McKee is an associate professor in Presidential Studies at the Miller Center. He received a PhD in American history at the University of California, Berkeley in May 2002, and he is the author of The Problem of Jobs: Liberalism, Race, and Deindustrialization in Philadelphia, published in November 2008 by the University of Chicago Press. At the Miller Center, McKee works extensively with the Presidential Recordings Program.

McKee’s research focuses on how federal policy, especially in the executive branch, plays out at the local level in American communities. He has written extensively about urban policy, including a book that explored the connections between local and federal economic, urban renewal, and antipoverty policies in Philadelphia between the 1950s and the 1980s. This project led to his extensive work on the Lyndon Johnson White House recordings focused on the War on Poverty, as well as on the wider development of the Great Society.

He is currently working on a book project that examines the rise of the health care economy in American cities after World War II, focusing on the development of hospitals and academic medical centers as critical but problematic urban economic anchors as well as drivers of cost in the larger health care system. This project builds on his earlier work by connecting social, political, and economic developments in specific places (Baltimore provides a core case study for the book) with larger policy choices, especially those made by presidents (drawing in particular on the Center’s presidential oral histories). His work offers an alternative narrative of health care policy history – and of health care reform – by focusing on the consequences of health care spending.

McKee has written about health care in a variety of venues, including an essay on the connections between health care employment and the upheavals in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, as well as an op-ed on how both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton’s health care policy proposals in the 2016 Democratic primary ignored key parts of the health care cost problem. McKee’s work on health care also led to an essay on Lyndon Johnson and the passage of Medicare and Medicaid for the Miller Center’s First Year Project, for which he served as a co-editor of Volume 3 on Fiscal Policy and Volume 6 on Opportunity and Mobility.

As part of the Miller Center’s Presidential Recordings Program, McKee edited Volumes 6 and 7 of The Presidential Recordings of Lyndon B. Johnson. These volumes cover the period from mid-April to mid-June 1964, during which the Johnson administration lobbied for passage of the Civil Rights and Economic Opportunity Acts and struggled with increasing difficulties in Southeast Asia. He is also the editor of a thematic volume that includes all of Johnson’s recorded conversations about the War on Poverty. This project is currently being published digitally by the University of Virginia Press through its Rotunda electronic imprint.

He has published articles in the Journal of Urban HistoryJournal of Policy HistoryJournal of Planning History, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Community Development Investment Center, the Washington Post’s “Monkey Cage” blog, the Boston Globe, and U.S. News and World Report. In 2007, he delivered the keynote address at the conference "In the Shadow of the Great Society: American Politics, Culture and Society Since 1964," hosted by the Rothermere American Institute and the American History Research Seminar, University of Oxford, U.K. 

Guian McKee News Feed

As a result, President Trump’s support among voters outside urban and suburban areas has grown since 2016. For example, of 126 sparsely populated counties in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania where President Trump received more than 60% of the vote in 2020, his winning percentage increased from those of four years ago. Thus, as noted by University of Virginia professor Dr. Guian McKee, the 2020 election showed an ever-deepening polarization between urban and rural/small-town Americans.
Guian McKee The Daily Yonder
Miller Center Professor Guian McKee is interviewed by the BBC.
Guian McKee BBC
Guian McKee, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia (UVA's Miller Center) who studies electoral politics in the United States, found that behind the polarized public opinion, the United States originally supported the “red and blue” of the Democratic Party, the Central and the South’s Republican Party. The competitive landscape is being replaced by the political divide between the city and the countryside, and it has a tendency to deepen.
Guian McKee China News Network
This morning, the world received the welcome news that preliminary results from a Phase 3 trial show that the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is 90 percent effective, with no serious safety concerns. While a long road remains in terms of final trial stages, emergency approval, manufacturing, and distribution, the results are an immense relief and better than many people anticipated.
Guian McKee Aftermath blog
A University of Virginia professor says the 2020 election results show a lot about the urban-rural divide in America. "The 2020 election and its results make the stakes of the metropolitan urban-rural divide really clear for both parties. We’ve had a really striking pattern that shows there is a strong identification of where people live. We call 'geographic sort' that Americans increasingly live among their fellow partisans in their immediate communities. The results show that the country ultimately responded to Biden’s message of trying to reduce tension in the U.S. and find a way pass the polarization," said Guian McKee, a professor at UVA's Miller Center.
Guian McKee CBS19
As the major news organizations declared Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election, and celebrations spread among his supporters around the nation (and world), my thoughts turned to the speech that South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn gave after Biden’s crucial victory in the South Carolina primary. “We have as our candidate a real good man,” Clyburn quietly told the assembled crowd at the Biden victory party that night.
Guian McKee Aftermath blog