Samara Klar

Assistant Professor of Political Science, 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

Samara Klar quoted on nature of American two-party system by Steve Herman, "How Third Party Candidates Could Upset US Presidential Election" Voice of America, December 2, 2019.
Samara Klar quoted on the consequences of a third party candidate by Voice of America, "GOP, Dems, Keep Wary Eye on Third-Party Presidential Contenders" Hawaii telegraph
"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.
Samara Klar's research on party heuristics discussed by Peter Grier, "Parties Over? Republicans, Democrats, and the Howard Schultz Challenge," The Christian Science Monitor, February 21, 2019.
Samara Klar's research on representation of female experts discussed by Gabby Deutch, "In the ‘Year of the Woman,’ Many Were Missing From International Reporting," The Atlantic, February 11, 2019.
Guest to discuss independent parties on MPR News, Samara Klar, January 29, 2019.
Guest to discuss political trends on MPR News, Samara Klar, December 31, 2018.
"Swing Voters Exist. Here’s How to Scare Them off (and How Not To)," Samara Klar, The New York Times, October 17, 2018.
Samara Klar quoted by Michelle Griffith, "UMN Professor Creates Website to Help Professors Diversity Their Syllabuses" Minnesota Daily, June 12, 2018.
Samara Klar quoted on changes in academia by Nicola Pardy, "The Free Speech Debate isn’t a University Issue. It’s an American One." Refinery 29, May 11, 2018.
Eric Schickler quoted on social media's impact on American politics by Duncan Sinfield, "Researchers Discuss "Parties and Partisanship in the Era of Twitter and Trump"" KTVU San Francisco, April 21, 2018.
"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.
Samara Klar quoted by Kerri Miller, "Does Political Experience Still Matter?" All Things Considered, January 18, 2018.
Samara Klar quoted by Thomas B. Edsall, "The Politics of #HimToo" New York Times, January 14, 2018.
"There May Have Been Shy Trump Supporters after All," Samara Klar (with Elizabeth Connors and Yanna Krupnikov), The Washington Post, November 12, 2016.
Samara Klar quoted on the myth behind independent politics by Barri Bronston, "Are Americans Truly Independent?" Tulane University News, November 2, 2016.
Guest to discuss demographic shifts in Arizona on News 4 Tucson, Samara Klar, November 2, 2016.
Samara Klar quoted on the rise of Independent voters by Lauren Gilger, "Is This Election Stressing You Out? You're Not Alone" 91.5 KJZZ, October 21, 2016.
Guest to discuss the first presidential debate on Tucson News Now, Samara Klar, September 27, 2016.
Interview on the 2016 Republican and Democratic nominating conventions Samara Klar, University of Arizona News, July 15, 2016.
"A Move Very Much out of Line with the Electorate," Samara Klar (with Yanna Krupnikov), New York Times, April 26, 2016.
Samara Klar quoted on the expertise of women scholars by Xiani Zhong, "Website Listing Female Political Science Experts Aims to Address Implicit Biases" Badger Herald, February 16, 2016.
"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.
Interview on the launching of Women Also Know Stuff Samara Klar, Midwest Political Science Association, February 8, 2016.
"Women Fight More than Men over Politics," Samara Klar, Politico, December 9, 2014.
Samara Klar's research on political independents discussed by Eric Horowitz, "Independents are the Hipsters of American Politics," Pacific Standard, January 16, 2014.
"Why People Call Themselves 'Independent' Even When They Aren't," Samara Klar (with Yanna Krupnikov), The Monkey Cage, Washington Post, January 10, 2014.
Samara Klar's research on how political rhetoric can be a strong factor for voters with conflicting political attitudes discussed by Katy Steinmetz, "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.

"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.
"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 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.