Katherine Cramer

Professor of Political Science and Director of the Morgridge Center for Public Service, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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About Katherine

Cramer studies the way members of the public make sense of public affairs. She is best known for her unique approach to public opinion, in which she invites herself into the conversations of groups of citizens to better understand their interpretations of politics. Most recently, she has been focusing on the way many people in rural Wisconsin use their rural identity to think about current events in that state. She is also Faculty Investigator of the University of Wisconsin Survey Center Badger Poll. Her research interests include public opinion, civic engagement and deliberative democracy. She is a board member of the YWCA Madison, and a commissioner on the City of Madison’s Equal Opportunities Commission.


Real Voting Equality

  • Ceri Hughes
  • Lewis Friedland
  • Michael W. Wagner
  • Dhavan Shah
  • Jordan Foley

Wisconsin is Scheduled to Vote Today. How will the Pandemic Affect Turnout?

  • Jordan Foley
  • Michael W. Wagner
  • Lewis Friedland
  • Dhavan Shah
  • Ceri Hughes

How People Make Sense of Politics

Why Many Americans Resent Public Employees

No Jargon Podcast

In the News

Opinion: "Many Americans Believe the Economy Is Rigged," Katherine Cramer (with Jonathan Cohen), The New York Times, February 21, 2024.
Opinion: "What Makes Wisconsin Swing?," Katherine Cramer (with Ceri Hughes, Michael W. Wagner, Dhavan Shah, Lewis Friedland, Jordan Foley, Jiyoun Suk, Josephine Lukito, and Chris Wells), Vox, March 29, 2019.
Opinion: "White People Get More Conservative when They Move up — Not down — Economically. Here’s the Evidence.," Katherine Cramer (with Larry Bartels), The Washington Post, May 14, 2018.
Research discussed by Jan Shepel, in "Book Outlines Resentment among Rural Residents," Wisconsin State Farmer, February 7, 2018.
Guest on Minnesota Public Radio, April 12, 2017.
Quoted by Patti Waldmeir in "Stereotype-Defying Trump Voters Have No Regrets," Financial Times, November 19, 2016.
Research discussed by Danielle Kurtzleben, in "Rural Voters Played a Big Part in Helping Trump Defeat Clinton," National Public Radio, November 14, 2016.
Opinion: "How Rural Resentment Helps Explain the Surprising Victory of Donald Trump," Katherine Cramer, The Washington Post, November 13, 2016.
Interviewed in "A New Theory for Why Trump Voters are So Angry – That Actually Makes Sense," The Washington Post, November 8, 2016.
Opinion: "To Overcome Deep Mistrust, Listen to Rural Families’ Needs," Katherine Cramer, New York Times, September 19, 2016.
Opinion: "The Politics of Resentment," Katherine Cramer, The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 19, 2016.
Guest on National Public Radio, April 25, 2016.
Opinion: "Wisconsin's New Politics of Resentment," Katherine Cramer, USA Today, April 4, 2016.
Quoted by Molly Jackson in "The Next Big Battle for Republican Votes: Wisconsin," Christian Science Monitor, March 28, 2016.
Opinion: "Here’s What Trump is Telling Resentful Americans (and Sanders is Not)," Katherine Cramer, The Washington Post, March 15, 2016.
Quoted by Xiani Zhong in "Website Listing Female Political Science Experts Aims to Address Implicit Biases," Badger Herald, February 16, 2016.
Research discussed by Matt Pommer, in "Upcoming Book Highlights Funding Issues," The Courier, June 24, 2015.
Quoted by Noah Berlatsky in "Is Racism Slowing Job Recovery?," Pacific Standard, March 11, 2015.
Quoted by Chris Karpowitz and Tali Mendelberg in "Is an Old Boys’ Club Always Sexist?," The Washington Post, October 23, 2014.
Opinion: "Listen to the Legitimacy of Other Voters," Katherine Cramer, Wisconsin State Journal, June 23, 2012.
Interviewed in "Wisconsin's Political Split Hardens into Great Divide," NPR, April 30, 2011.


"The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker" (University of Chicago Press, 2016).

Uncovers an oft-overlooked piece of the puzzle: rural political consciousness and the resentment of the “liberal elite.”

"The Distance from Public Institutions of Higher Education: Public Perceptions of UW-Madison," Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education, 2012.

Investigates how Wisconsinites think about UW-Madison through investigations of conversations regularly occurring among 36 groups sampled from 27 communities statewide. Reveals a pervasive sense of distance from UW-Madison that is part of a broader sense of disconnection from institutions of authority. Implies that positive relationships between UW-Madison and the mass public will require innovative means of listening and relationship building.

"Talking about Race: Community Dialogues and the Politics of Difference " (University of Chicago Press, 2007).
Examines community-based dialogue programs intended to improve race relations.
"Democracy at Risk: How Political Choices Have Undermined Citizenship, and What We Can Do about It" (with members the Standing Committee on Civic Education and Engagement of the American Political Science Association) (Brookings, 2005).
Details what social scientists know about the ways policy undermines the quantity, quality, and equality of civic engagement.
"Talking about Politics: Informal Groups and Social Identity in American Life " (University of Chicago Press, 2004).
Examines informal political talk and the manner in which people use race, class and gender identity to make sense of politics.