David Barker

Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies and Professor of Government, American University

About David

Barker has authored or co-authored three university press books and dozens of peer-reviewed political science journal articles on the subjects of American political parties, campaigns/elections, representation, culture/polarization, ideology/attitudes, information/communication, and institutions (Congress and the Presidency). He has served as the principal investigator on more than 60 grant/contract-supported research projects- totaling more than $10 million- including support from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health, HUD, and many others. His first book, Rushed to Judgment: Talk Radio, Persuasion, and American Political Behavior (2012, Columbia University Press), was nominated for several national awards. Barker's second book, Representing Red and Blue: How the Culture Wars Changed the Way Citizens Speak and Politicians Listen (2012, Oxford University Press) has been featured in prominent national media outlets including The Washington Post and Vox. His third book,  One Nation, Two Realities: Dueling Facts in American Democracy is forthcoming in 2018. 

In the News

David Barker quoted on Paul Ryan and lame ducks by Michael Walsh, "Paul Ryan, Lame Duck: What Does the Future Hold for Him?" Yahoo News, April 11, 2018.
David Barker quoted , "Republican Governor Tells Republicans to 'Wake Up' after Democrats Win Big in Wisconsin" The Independent, January 17, 2018.
David Barker quoted on negativity versus biases in reporting by Stephen Loiaconi, "One Year Later, Media Still Struggles with Challenges of Covering President Trump" WJLA Washington, November 9, 2017.
"This is Why So Many Republicans are Ready to Ignore Public Opinion on Health Care," David Barker (with Christopher Jan Carman), The Washington Post, June 27, 2017.
"Democrats Pander. Republicans Shirk. Both Should Worry Democratic Activists," David Barker, Mischiefs of Faction, Vox, March 7, 2017.
"Progressive Protestors Face Longer Odds than the Tea Party Did," David Barker (with Kim Nalder and Jessica Newham ), Mischiefs of Faction, Vox, March 2, 2017.
"The Twilight of Statewide Telephone Polling?," David Barker, Fox and Hounds, February 2, 2017.
"Viewpoints: Californians' Knowledge about Civic Finances is Very Disappoting," David Barker (with Kim Nalder and Seve Boilard), The Sacramento Bee, November 10, 2013.


Representing Red and Blue: How the Culture Wars Change the Way Citizens Speak and Politicians Listen (with Christopher Jan Carman) (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Demonstrates and explains how Republicans and Democrats want, and get, very different styles of political representation in the United State, with Democratic policymakers being much more inclined to take cues from constituents and Republicans are more likely to "stand on principle."

"Competing Visions of Parental Roles and Ideological Constraint " (with James D. Tinnick ). American Political Science Review 100, no. 2 (2006): 249-263.

Presents a simplified theory of moral understanding and political ideology, showing that the differences between liberals and conservatives can be boiled down to whether one defines morality primarily in terms of empathy or discipline.

Rushed to Judgment? Talk Radio, Persuasion and American Political Behavior (Columbia University Press, 2002).

Demonstrates the independent impact of partisan media- in this case, political talk radio- over public opinion, turnout, vote choice, and political knowledge. 

"Of Crusades and Culture Wars: 'Messianic' Militarism and Political Conflict in the U.S." (with Jon Hurwitz and Traci L. Nelson). The Journal of Politics 70, no. 2 (2008): 307-322.

Documents and explains the relationship between traditionalistic Christian dogma, nationalism, and militaristic policy preferences in the United States.

One Nation, Two Realities: Dueling Fact Perceptions in American Politics (with Morgan Marietta) (Oxford University Press, Forthcoming).

Examines the causes of polarized fact perceptions- the tendency for Democrats and Republicans to believe very different things when it comes to empirical reality- and the consequences associated with that phenomenon.

"End Times Theology, The Shadow of the Future, and American Exceptionalism Regarding Global Climate Change " (with David Bearce). Political Research Quarterly 66, no. 2 (2012): 267-269.

Documents and explains the role that evangelical Christian dogma- specifically, "End Times" theology- plays in shaping conservative opposition to addressing climate change.