Samara Klar

Melody S. Robidoux Foundation Fund Professor, School of Government and Public Policy, University of Arizona

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About Samara

Klar’s research focuses on how citizens' social and political identity groups influence their political preferences. She argues that individuals associate with many groups at once and, at times, these identities may align with competing sides of policy debates. In these instances, she finds (using experimental studies) that the identity facing the greatest perceived threat most strongly influences political preferences. When two groups both face threats, however, they both fail to exert influence. In other work, Klar examines political engagement among Americans who identify as "political independents" and she demonstrates, with large-scale survey data, that those who value "independence" as an important political identity are highly engaged in American politics. Elsewhere, she looks at the influence of gender and parenthood in political decision-making. In her ongoing research, Klar uses surveys and experimental methods to study the consequences of partisan conflict on public engagement with politics. Klar is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including funding from the National Science Foundation. Her work appears or is forthcoming in the American Journal of Political Science, the Journal of Politics, and Political Psychology.

In the News

Quoted by Steve Herman in "How Third Party Candidates Could Upset US Presidential Election," Voice of America, December 2, 2019.
Quoted by Voice of America in "GOP, Dems, Keep Wary Eye on Third-Party Presidential Contenders," Hawaii telegraph,
Opinion: "Is America Hopelessly Polarized, or Just Allergic to Politics?," Samara Klar (with Yanna Krupnikov and John Barry Ryan), The New York Times, April 12, 2019.
Research discussed by Peter Grier, in "Parties Over? Republicans, Democrats, and the Howard Schultz Challenge," The Christian Science Monitor, February 21, 2019.
Research discussed by Gabby Deutch, in "In the ‘Year of the Woman,’ Many Were Missing From International Reporting," The Atlantic, February 11, 2019.
Guest on MPR News, January 29, 2019.
Guest on MPR News, December 31, 2018.
Opinion: "Swing Voters Exist. Here’s How to Scare Them off (and How Not To)," Samara Klar, The New York Times, October 17, 2018.
Quoted by Nicola Pardy in "The Free Speech Debate isn’t a University Issue. It’s an American One.," Refinery 29, May 11, 2018.
Quoted by Duncan Sinfield in "Researchers Discuss "Parties and Partisanship in the Era of Twitter and Trump"," KTVU San Francisco, April 21, 2018.
Opinion: "David Brooks Thinks the Two-Party System is Doomed. He's Right — and Wrong.," Samara Klar (with John Barry Ryan and Yanna Krupnikov), The Washington Post, February 16, 2018.
Quoted by Kerri Miller in "Does Political Experience Still Matter?," All Things Considered, January 18, 2018.
Quoted by Thomas B. Edsall in "The Politics of #HimToo," New York Times, January 14, 2018.
Opinion: "There May Have Been Shy Trump Supporters after All," Samara Klar (with Elizabeth Connors and Yanna Krupnikov), The Washington Post, November 12, 2016.
Quoted by Barri Bronston in "Are Americans Truly Independent?," Tulane University News, November 2, 2016.
Quoted by Lauren Gilger in "Is This Election Stressing You Out? You're Not Alone," 91.5 KJZZ, October 21, 2016.
Guest on Tucson News Now, September 27, 2016.
Interviewed in "Four Questions: And Now, the Political Conventions," University of Arizona News, July 15, 2016.
Opinion: "A Move Very Much out of Line with the Electorate," Samara Klar (with Yanna Krupnikov), New York Times, April 26, 2016.
Quoted by Xiani Zhong in "Website Listing Female Political Science Experts Aims to Address Implicit Biases," Badger Herald, February 16, 2016.
Opinion: "Here’s a List of Smart Women Political Scientists. They Know Stuff, Too.," Samara Klar (with Melissa R. Michelson, Emily Beaulieu, Amber Boydstun, Kim Yi Dionne, Yanna Krupnikov, Kathleen Searles, and Christina Wolbrecht), The Washington Post, February 11, 2016.
Regular Contributions by Samara Klar to Woman Also Know Stuff.
Interviewed in "Q&A with the Founder of Women Also Know Stuff," Midwest Political Science Association, February 8, 2016.
Opinion: "Women Fight More than Men over Politics," Samara Klar, Politico, December 9, 2014.
Research discussed by Eric Horowitz, in "Independents are the Hipsters of American Politics," Pacific Standard, January 16, 2014.
Opinion: "Why People Call Themselves 'Independent' Even When They Aren't," Samara Klar (with Yanna Krupnikov), Washington Post, January 10, 2014.
Research discussed by Katy Steinmetz, in "How Politicians Scare Voters to Their Side," Time Magazine, August 17, 2013.


"Partisanship in a Social Setting" American Journal of Political Science 58, no. 3 (2014): 687-704.

Measures how exposure to opposing viewpoints, in isolation, tends to polarize Democrats and Republicans, but social interaction in ideologically diverse groups appears to increase bipartisan cooperation.

"Independent Politics: How American Disdain for Parties Leads to Political Inaction" (with Yanna Krupnikov) (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Shows that many Americans have grown embarrassed of their own partisan attachments. Demonstrates that people intentionally mask their partisan preferences in social situations. Argues that independents are politically consequential.

"A Shallow Pool: The Influence of Competitive Identity Priming on Civic Donations," (with Spencer Piston), Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research, March 31, 2013.
Shows that individuals facing competing appeals for donations from multiple civic organizations will donate to one cause at the expense of another, and political organizations appear to suffer most of all.
"The Social Consequence of Partisan Disagreement," (with Yanna Krupnikov), Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research, March 31, 2013.
Discusses the ways in which increasingly negative coverage of partisan disagreement in Washington leads partisanship to be perceived as socially undesirable and, subsequently, to Americans being more likely to identify as politically independent.
"Contrasting the Influence of Parenthood on Mothers' and Fathers' Political Preferences," (with Heather Madonia and Monica Schneider), Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research, March 31, 2013.
Explores how the influence of parenthood on political decisions among mothers and fathers depends on the type of policy issue at hand, with each group drawing on their parental experiences in some cases but not others.
"The Influence of Competing Identity Primes on Political Preferences" Journal of Politics 75, no. 4 (2013).
Demonstrates how, when individuals identify with social groups on both sides of a policy debate, they are most influenced by the identity group facing the greatest threat.
"Identity Importance and Political Engagement among American Independents" Political Psychology (2013).
Shows that among voters who identify as “politically independent,” the importance they place on independence as a meaningful political identity appears to determine their engagement with politics.