SMU Elections Experts

How is the battle for president going?

Quote of the Moment
"With all the activity, voter ID and redistricting, it’s very hard to conclude anything other than that the Anglo Republican Party in Texas is fighting to hold back the Hispanic tide."
— Cal Jillson
SMU professors are available to provide expert commentary on the campaign for the White House, from political conventions to polls, from education to immigration. What are the candidates and their supporters doing right? What are they doing wrong? And what's the voters' take on all of this?

  Ben Voth, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Communication Studies

"The debates can make a huge difference for the two contestants. Since 1960, Gallup polling indicates noticeable persuasive effects. . . Poll changes since 1960 range from 12 points for President Bush in 2000 to one point for President Bush Sr. in 1988."

An expert in debate and persuasion, Voth is director of debate and speech programs at SMU. He has coached more than a dozen national champions in collegiate speech events.
Lynn Stokes

Matthew Wilson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science

"Romney will be looking to score decisive points against the president, but this will be difficult unless Obama provides him an opening with a gaffe of some sort. The challenger will need to look presidential and put the bumblings of the last two weeks behind him, delivering a focused indictment of Obama’s leadership and reminding Americans of the core issues in the election. I will be looking to see if he is able to do this and to effectively stay on-message."

Professor Wilson specializes in religion and politics, as well as public opinion, elections and political psychology.


Matthew Wilson

Cal Jillson, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science

"In January the Romney campaign released an estimate of Mitt and Ann Romney’s 2011 federal taxes. The estimate was that they would pay $3.2 million in taxes on income of $21 million. Today the actual tax return was released and it showed taxes paid of $1.9 million on 2011 income of $13.7 million. There are two possible reactions to these facts. One is simply that he needs to fire his estimator. The other is that if his income keeps collapsing at the current rate he may be eligible for the earned income tax credit in 2013 and will have joined the 47 percent who look to the government for handouts because they are unwilling to take personal responsibility for their lives."

One of the nation’s foremost political experts, he regularly provides journalists thoughtful insight on Texas and U.S. politics. He is the author of the forthcoming Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy.

Cal Jillson
Economy & Unemployment
  Michael Davis, Ph.D., Professor of Economics in Cox School

"I think he's right about that number and the broader point that the U.S. has a remarkably progressive tax system," Davis said of Romney's remarks about 47% of the country being dependent on government. "He is wrong, though, about the politics. It is quite likely that many people in that bottom 47% would consider voting for him."

Professor Davis specializes in the intersection of government and business and frequently comments on on the Texas and national economies, including financial markets, unemployment and the impact of economic stimulus.


  Tom Fomby, Ph.D., Professor of Economics in Dedman College
He can discuss the Texas economy vs. the rest of the nation, what the unemployment rate means for Texas and political promises about the economy.
Tom Fomby
Campaign Ads and Voter Communication
  Rita Kirk, Ph.D., Professor of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs
Her knowledge of the evolving communication landscape has made her a valuable resource in analyzing trends in politics and political communication, such as that found on YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter and other social media. She has the ability to adapt to story topics and specializes in political and persuasive campaigns.
Rita Kirk
Polls and Surveys
  Lynne Stokes, Ph.D., Professor of Statistical Science
She is an expert in surveys, polls and sampling, as well as in non-sampling survey errors, such as errors by interviewers and respondents.
Lynn Stokes
  Pia Orrenius, Ph.D., Fellow at SMU's Tower Center for Political Studies
A senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, her research focuses on the border region and the causes and consequences of Mexico–U.S. migration, illegal immigration, and U.S. immigration policy. She is the author of Beside the Golden Door: U.S. Immigration Reform in a New Era of Globalization. See video of her CNN interview video icon.
Pia Orrenius
Education Issues
  David Chard, Ph.D., Professor of Education and Dean
He writes op-eds and speaks to journalists on education issues ranging from controversial textbooks to inadequate teacher training. He is an expert on best educational practices.
David Chard

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