David Karpf

David Karpf

Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs, Director of Graduate Studies
MPA 405, Office Hours M/W 3:00pm - 5:00pm and by appt.
Phone: 401-559-1106

Areas of Expertise

Internet politics; political communication; political blogs; online organizing; qualitative methods


David Karpf is an Assistant Professor in the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University.  His work focuses on strategic communication practices of political associations in America, with a particular interest in Internet-related strategies.
Dr. Karpf is the author of The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy (2012, Oxford University Press).  The book highlights the disruptive role that the Internet has played in the advocacy group system.  It provides the first detailed analysis of the new generation of "netroots" organizations -- groups like MoveOn.org and DailyKos.com -- and examines how these new organizations differ from the older nonprofit organizations.  The book also discusses the partisan adoption of new technologies, offering an explanation of the ongoing failure of conservative partisans to build equivalent netroots organizations.
Prior to entering academia, Dr. Karpf was an environmental organizer with the Sierra Club.  He served as National Director of the Sierra Student Coalition in 1999, National Trainings Director from 1998-2000, and National Roadless Campaign Coordinator in 2000.  He also served six years on the Sierra Club's Board of Directors (2004-2010).  Karpf weaves this practical campaign perspective into much of his research and teaching.
Dr. Karpf previously served as an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University.  He was a Resident Fellow at the University of Virginia's Miller Center for Public Affairs in 2008-09, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Brown University's Taubman Center for Public Policy in 2009-2010, and a Visiting Fellow at Yale University's Information Society Project in 2010-2011.  His work has appeared in the Journal of Information Technology and Politics, Policy & Internet, IEEE Intelligent Systems, and Information, Communication, and Society.  He has also been published in The Guardian Online and TechPresident, and he is frequently quoted by mainstream publications on technology and politics.


Ph.D., Political Science, University of Pennsylvania, 2009
M.A., Political Science, University of Pennsylvania, 2006
B.A., Politics, Oberlin College, 2002, Summa cum laude


The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
“Understanding Blogspace.” Journal of Information Technology and Politics. Volume 5, Issue 4 (December 2008) Routledge Press, pp. 369-384.
“Macaca Moments Revisited…Electoral Panopticon or Netroots Mobilization?” Journal of Information Technology and Politics. Special issue on YouTube and the 2008 election, Volume 7, Issue 2/3 (May 2010) pp. 143-162.
“Online Political Mobilization from the Advocacy Group's Perspective: Looking Beyond Clicktivism.” Policy & Internet.  Volume 2, Issue 4 (December 2010).
“Open Source Political Community Development: A Five-Stage Adoption Process.” Journal of Information Technology and Politics. Volume 8, Issue 2/3 (September 2011) pp. 323-345.
“Social Science Research Methods in Internet Time.” Information, Communication, and Society.  Volume 15, Issue 5 (May 2012) pp. 639-661.


Classes Taught

SMPA 6204, Strategic Political Communication

Faculty Soundbite

"Groups like MoveOn.org and DailyKos.com are now some of the most influential groups in American Politics."

Assistant Professor David Karpf  discusses his book, "The MoveOn Effect: The Unexpected Transformation of American Political Advocacy".

The Faculty Soundbites Series reveals the most captivating and rewarding aspects of SMPA professors' work in the field and in the classroom.

Blog: Shouting Loudly

Personal Democracy Forum 2012

Professor David Karpf gives the keynote address, "No Field of Dreams: How Online Organizing Really Works," at the Personal Democracy Forum in 2012.