David Karpf

Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University
Areas of Expertise:
  • Civic Engagement
  • Media & Public Opinion
  • Revitalizing U.S. Democracy
  • Science & Technology

About David

Karpf conducts research on the Internet and political organizing. He studies how the new media environment affects organized political advocacy and, in particular, how the new generation of “netroots” advocacy groups (MoveOn.org, Progressive Change Campaign Committee) differs from the older generation of “legacy” organizations (the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International). He has published on the topics of “clicktivism,” online fundraising, the Internet and electoral campaigns, and the political blogosphere. He regularly blogs about these topics at ShoutingLoudly.com. Prior to entering academia, Karpf was a longtime volunteer leader in the Sierra Club. He served as National Director of the Sierra Student Coalition in 1999-2000, Sierra Club Vice President for Training in 2003, and was an elected member of the Sierra Club Board of Directors from 2004-2010.



"Online Political Mobilization from the Advocacy Group’s Perspective: Looking Beyond Clicktivism" Policy & Internet 2, no. 4 (2010): 7-41.
Argues that debates over “clicktivism” are fundamentally pursuing the wrong question. Simple acts of participation, online or offline, occur within a broader campaign context. This article discusses how the broader campaign context alters the value of digital participation.
"Social Science Research Methods in Internet Time" Information, Communication, & Society 15, no. 5 (2012): 639-661.
Discusses the new challenges that scholars face in the Internet age. Proposes that we promote the values of “transparency” and “kludginess” in order to meet the new challenges and produce timely and accessible research.
The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy (Oxford University Press, 2012).
Describes the new wave of “netroots” political organizations and highlights how they differ from their more longstanding interest group peers. Recipient of the 2013 “Best Book Award” from the American Political Science Association Information Technology & Politics Section.

In the News

David Karpf quoted in Evan Halper, "Was Cambridge Analytica a Digital Svengali or Snake-Oil Salesman?" Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2018.
David Karpf quoted in Alvin Chang, "MSNBC and CNN Took the NRA’s Bait on Arming Teachers" Vox, February 26, 2018.
David Karpf quoted in Peter Overby, "Trump Powers Small Dollar Donor Surge for Democratic Fundraising Site" NPR, February 27, 2018.
David Karpf quoted in Alexis Sobel Fitts, "Don't Blame Social Media for Celebrity Politicians. Blame Everyone" Wired, January 16, 2018.
David Karpf quoted in Liz Wahl, "New Details Show How Russia Used Social Media to Divide Americans" ABC News, November 1, 2017.
David Karpf quoted in Steven Nelson, "Trump Team Ignores White House Petitions after Talk of Pulling the Plug" Washington Examiner, October 27, 2017.
David Karpf quoted in Jack Shafer, "Week 21: Hunting Trump like He's Pokemon" Politico Magazine, October 14, 2017.
"When to Bring a Petition to a Trump-Fight," David Karpf, Civicist, February 14, 2017.
David Karpf quoted in Joseph P. Williams, "Beyond the Boogeyman" U.S. News and World Report, June 26, 2015.
"When Making the World a Better Place Isn't a Punchline," David Karpf, Civicist, May 6, 2015.
David Karpf quoted on the effect of Facebook ads on fundraising in Derek Willis, "Facebook Says Experiments Prove Ads on Its Site Can Spur Donations" New York Times, December 22, 2014.
"The Reason Why Your Inbox is Flooded with Political E-mail," David Karpf, Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, December 2, 2014.
David Karpf quoted on the FCC and Net Neutrality in Nancy Scola, "Inside the Collapse of the FCC’s Digital Infrastructure — And the Rush to Save It" The Washington Post, September 24, 2014.
David Karpf's research on online voter registration discussed in Nikki SchwabDavid Karpf, "Online Voter Registration Still Not Happening in Most States," US News and World Report, September 24, 2014.
David Karpf quoted on ActBlue and online fundraising in Derek Willis, "How ActBlue Became a Powerful Force in Fund-Raising" New York Times, October 9, 2014.
David Karpf quoted on changes in political advertising in Nancy Marshall-Genzer, "Cable Eclipsing Broadcast for Political Advertising" Marketplace, October 17, 2014.
"Wisconsin and the Limits of Web Power," David Karpf, The Guardian Online, February 25, 2011.
"Change.org and the Dilemmas of Success," David Karpf, TechPresident.com, June 19, 2012.
"UVA Board’s Lazy Business Sense," David Karpf, Huffington Post, June 20, 2012.
"Netroots Goes Global," David Karpf, The Nation, November 4, 2013.