Elections 2008: Issues and Answers
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WILL THIS ELECTION CYCLE EVER END? The polls won’t close for more than a year, but our experts are already analyzing candidate performance. Welcome to SMU’s Election 2008 site where you’ll find the experts, angles and resources needed to cover the biggest election the U.S. has ever seen.

Will Hillary or Obama Remember the Alamo?

The eyes of Texas are upon the candidates. Who will be the “star” of the Lone Star State? Dennis Simon, a Texas political scientist at SMU, is available for analysis and says: “Texas will be a place where ‘assumptions about the campaign thus far’ will be tested. . ." Read more.

Lott’s Lot = More Senate Power For Texas?

Trent Lott

When Bush leaves the White House in ‘09, will Texas’ political power be found in the Senate? Cal Jillson, a scholar of Texas and U.S. politics and professor of political science at SMU, provides analysis:

“When Bush leaves the White House in ’09, Texas’ political influence will be as low as it has been in 70 years, and quite possibly as low as it has been since Reconstruction. Though 2008 is likely to see Democratic gains in both the House and the Senate, the announcement Monday (Nov. 26) that Senator Trent Lott will retire by year’s end may present the chance for Texas’ two Republican senators to move up.

“Hutchison and Cornyn now hold the number four and five spots in the leadership. It is unlikely that either will contest for Lott’s number two spot. Hutchison has already signaled that she might leave the Senate before 2010 and Cornyn is just finishing his first term in the Senate. It is more likely that the fight will take place over their heads, confirming the state’s unfamiliar position on the sidelines of American politics.”

To speak with Jillson, contact him directly at 214/768-4321 or cjillson@smu.edu.



Religion has always played a role in politics, but with Democrats focusing on the religious vote more so than in recent elections, what does this mean for the coming primary season? Are candidates appealing to the religious vote too early? And if so is there a prayer of winning in the long run?

Matthew Wilson is an associate professor of political science at SMU. Wilson’s research specializes in the voting behavior of religious voters, as well as public opinion, elections, religion and politics and political psychology. He is at work on two book projects, one on the political behavior of American Catholics and another dealing with how citizens decide whom to hold accountable for social and political outcomes. Wilson’s comments have appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek and Reuters, among others.

To speak with Wilson, call 214/768-7650 or email news@smu.edu.


YouTube LogoThe Internet played a big role in the last election, but what part will social media and its components like YouTube, Facebook and MySpace play in the early primaries? Like grassroots efforts of the past, new technologies like Web 2.0 will change the way campaigns are conducted, according to SMU expert Dan Schill.

Schill, who conducted focus group testing for the recent CNN/YouTube debate, is assistant professor for corporate communications and public affairs at SMU. Schill’s research studies media and politics, political campaign communication, political marketing, and persuasion and social influence. Schill can also speak to how political figures use media events to build their public image, engender positive media coverage and favorably frame issues for voters.

To speak with Schill, call 214/768-7650 or email news@smu.edu.


Cal Jillson, a scholar of Texas and U.S. politics and professor of political science at SMU, provides analysis on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ resignation:

“Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will find little peace in Texas.

“Democrats will follow him home, subpoenas in hand, demanding to know his role and that of the White House in the series of inquiries surrounding the fired federal attorneys, domestic surveillance, and the torture memos.

“Gonzales’ resignation came far too late to allow a graceful exit. George W. Bush will miss him, but most Republicans will be relieved to see him go.”


Matthew Wilson, a scholar of religion and politics and professor of political science at SMU, provides analysis on Idaho Republican Sen. Larry E. Craig’s guilty plea to misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges.

“In an environment where conservative activists of all stripes are already demoralized and where the Christian Right is clearly dissatisfied with the top-tier Republican presidential contenders, this doesn’t help.  It furthers the idea that Republicans in Washington are no stronger on moral values than Democrats, at least when it comes to personal behavior.

“That said, I don't think it hurts as badly as some previous scandals.  First, Craig is a pretty obscure Senator.  Second, we are not in an election year, so this will likely be forgotten by the time we're voting in 2008.  Finally, the alleged acts do not involve predation, the way the Mark Foley scandal did.”

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