Donald Trump has an increasingly shrinking lead in deep-red Texas

Business Insider

Originally Posted: October 14, 2016

So much so, that a poll released Thursday showed Hillary Clinton within the margin of error, trailing Trump by just 4 points.

The poll, from the WFAA-TV and Texas TEGNA television stations, came after perhaps Trump’s most damaging week of the campaign. It showed Trump up on Clinton 47% to 43% in the Lone Star state, with a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

“I think to put these numbers in context — it shows that Trump’s position has eroded a little bit,” said Matthew Wilson, associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

He added: “His lead is down to four percentage points according to this poll, but even in the wake of some really terrible news for him, he still leads in Texas, which shows what a tough nut Texas is to crack for Democratic candidates right now.”

2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney won Texas by 16 points, 2008 GOP nominee John McCain carried it by 13 points, and former President George W. Bush carried his home state by 23 points in 2004 and 22 points in 2000.

Texas has not turned blue since 1976.

The survey comes amid a tumultuous turn in the polls for Trump in the aftermath of a leaked 2005 video showing him making lewd comments about women and several women publicly accusing the Republican nominee of sexual misconduct.



“Gender Migration” by Dr. Caroline Brettell, Ruth Collins Altshuler Prof of Anthropology, director of the Interdisciplinary Institute

SMU Research

Originally Posted: October 13, 2016

Gender roles, relations, and ideologies are major aspects of migration. In a timely book on the subject, SMU anthropologist Caroline B. Brettell argues that understanding gender relations is vital to a full and more nuanced explanation of both the causes and the consequences of migration, in the past and at present.

Gender and Migration (Polity, 2016) explores gendered labor markets, laws and policies, and the transnational model of migration. With that, Brettell tackles a variety of issues such as how gender shapes the roles that men and women play in the construction of immigrant family and community life, debates concerning transnational motherhood, and how gender structures the immigrant experience for men and women more broadly.

“I have been working on the intersections of gender and migration since graduate school days and beginning with my dissertation research on Portuguese migrant women in France,” Brettell said. “Turning the lens of gender on population mobility reveals dimensions that might not otherwise be visible.”

Brettell is Ruth Collins Altshuler Professor of Anthropology and director of the Interdisciplinary Institute at Southern Methodist University.

The book will appeal to students and scholars of immigration, race and ethnicity, and gender studies and offers a definitive guide to the key conceptual issues surrounding gender and migration.

Anthropologist Brettell is an internationally recognized immigration expert on how the technology boom affects immigration, trends of new immigration gateway cities such as Dallas, Atlanta and Minneapolis and the challenges of women immigrants. Her research focus includes anthropology of Europe; migration and ethnicity; folk religion; and cross-cultural perspectives on gender.

An immigrant herself, Brettell was born in Canada and became a U.S. citizen in 1993. READ MORE

Trump’s scorched earth becomes new worry for Clinton World

The Hill

Originally Posted: October 14, 2016

The scorched-earth playbook employed by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is stirring alarm among allies of Hillary Clinton, with some fearing the negativity will depress turnout on Election Day.

Some Clinton supporters say they’re concerned that voters are nearly fed up with the constant accusations and name-calling that has defined the campaign.

“Of course there’s reason to worry, both about the ‘turn off’ effect or the impact if polling continues to show her leading by a wide margin,” one longtime Clinton adviser acknowledged on Thursday. “That, too, could lead some to stay home.”

The hostile atmosphere in the race has been worsening by the day.

In the past 48 hours, several women have come forward to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct following reports of a tape in which the Republican nominee talks about grabbing women by the genitals. Protestors have been interrupting Clinton to accuse her husband of rape, after Trump brought women who have accused former President Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct to the second debate.

Trump is increasingly warning of a “conspiracy” that he says is being waged against him by the Republican Party, corporate interests and the mainstream media. And amid the chaos, there’s been a slow drip of emails from WikiLeaks that appear to detail the inner workings of the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Another former Clinton aide added that while Trump’s comments have been “desperate,” there’s some cause for concern.

“In the final days of a presidential campaign, it’s something you have to worry about,” the source said.

Grant Reeher, the director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at Syracuse University, agreed, saying turnout fears are running high for candidates up and down ballot.

“I think every campaign from the two presidential campaigns on down are thinking about this, and rightly so, because this kind of conflict can raise the attention level and the interest level of people, but when you start hacking away into the enthusiasm, then that leads a lot of folks to just say, ‘I’m not going to bother at all,’” he said.

“The hardcore people will vote, but it’s the folks that are less attached that are going to be vulnerable to this.” READ MORE

SOCI/MKCL Alumni Networking

Event Date: October 26, 2016
Location: Hughes Trigg, Suite 200
Time: 5 to 6:30 pm

Please join us for a casual get together to gain exposure to different career paths and learn how to leverage your academic experience into the world of work. For more information contact: Chelsi McLain or visit

SMU Presidential Politics Class Studies Unique Election Year


Originally Posted: October 12, 2016

Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon, students fill the seats at SMU’s Presidential Elections in American Politics class.

“This year is probably the most unique election,” said Political Science Professor Dennis Simon.

The class is offered every few years. Students study past presidential elections, and the current one.

There is an emphasis on women; from the top of the ticket to the voters who will elect the next President of the United States.

“Clinton ran ads about Trump and women early on,” Simon explained. “Women’s turnout now exceeds men’s. There are now women of voting age in the U.S. and they give the Democrats an advantage.”

On Wednesday night, the last part of the class focused on women. Specifically what Donald Trump said about them in a leaked Access Hollywood tape.

“To listen to the remarks he’s made about women and think that people can still support him,” said SMU senior Helen Dunn and undecided voter.

“There’s just no way that he can win this election,” said SMU senior Andrew Baldridge, an Army veteran and undecided voter. “The numbers are just not in his favor.

An Atlantic poll shows the gender gap is wide.

Donald Trump leads among men by 11 points, but Hillary Clinton leads among women by 33 points.

“There will be other weird elections,” predicted Simon. “A lot can happen in four years.”  READ MORE


Research: Women hit harder by the pressures of elite academic science

SMU News

Originally Posted: October 12, 2016

We find that the fixed view of the ideal scientist has a significant impact on the ability of both women and men to stay in and succeed in academic science.” — Lincoln, Ecklund

Work life in academia might sound like a dream: summers off, year-long sabbaticals, the opportunity to switch between classroom teaching and research. Yet, when it comes to the sciences, life at the top U.S. research universities is hardly idyllic.

Based on surveys of over 2,000 junior and senior scientists, both male and female, as well as in-depth interviews, “Failing Families, Failing Science” examines how the rigors of a career in academic science makes it especially difficult to balance family and work.

SMU sociologist Anne Lincoln and Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund paint a nuanced picture that illuminates how gender, individual choices, and university and science infrastructures all play a role in shaping science careers, and how science careers, in turn, shape family life. They argue that both men and women face difficulties, though differently, in managing career and family.

“We spoke with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows about their professional and personal aspirations — their thoughts about entering academic science, as well as the struggles they face in trying to obtain an academic science position while starting a family,” write the authors. “We spoke with those who have ‘made it’ in science by obtaining positions as professors, asking them about the hardships they face as they try to balance devotion to work and family, and what kinds of strategies they use to overcome the difficulties. We also examined their potential to change the institutional infrastructure of science. Through our interviews, we were able to dig into some deeper issues.”

Numerous women the authors interviewed indicated they had to hide the fact they had children until they were confirmed for tenure, said the authors.

But they also found that family issues had an impact on career, and were a cause of concern, for men also.

” … many of those who are parents noted that their family commitments often negatively affect their opportunities for career advancement,” write the authors. “They say senior male scientists subtly and overtly sanction them for devoting themselves too much to their families — for example, criticizing them for not being fully devoted to their work when they take time off after the birth of a child.”

While women are hit harder by the pressures of elite academic science, the institution of science—and academic science, in particular—is not accommodating, possibly not even compatible, for either women or men who want to raise families.

Perhaps most importantly, their research reveals that early career academic scientists struggle considerably with balancing their work and family lives. This struggle may prevent these young scientists from pursuing positions at top research universities—or further pursuing academic science at all — a circumstance that comes at great cost to our national science infrastructure. — NYU Press. READ MORE

Lunch and Lecture by Tina Wasserman: “Beyond Brisket and Bagels: A Tour Of Jewish Food”

Event date: Wednesday, October 26
Location: Heroy Hall 153
Time: Noon-12:55 pm

Tina Wasserman, author of the acclaimed cookbook “Entree to Judaism A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora,” is a renown cooking instructor living in Dallas. Wasserman was elected in 1994 to Les Dames d’Escoffier, an International Culinary Society. She will discuss the history of Jewish food and its cultural significance. The talk includes lunch and a hands-on lesson in food art. RSVP by Oct. 20 to

Link for more information:


Touring the Perot’s Giant Gems of the Smithsonian with a Local Gem and Mineral Hunter

Dallas Observer

Originally Posted: October 11, 2016

It all started with a load of gravel hauled in from around the Trinity River.

When Bill Candler, former president of the Oak Cliff Gem and Mineral Society, was 5 years old he found a few fossils out in the driveway and displayed them in his bedroom. He was incensed when he later discovered them in the driveway once again after his mother had thrown them out. He was a rock hound.

This weekend, Candler toured the Perot Museum of Science and Nature’s Giant Gems of the Smithsonian collection, which has never been seen together anywhere. Resting among the colored brilliance, sits a golden topaz weighing more than 10 pounds.

“We find topaz here in Texas,” Candler said. “The rare ones have a little blue tint.”

Blue topaz, the state gemstone of Texas, can be found in the central part of the state around Llano, Candler said. The mineral comes in many colors, and the clear ones can be irradiated, which turns it a blue color and makes the gem more likely to be hoarded by a collector.

“While most of the world’s blue topaz has been enhanced by irradiation, Texas’ is naturally occurring and is sometimes faceted or cut to show a star in the middle of the stone,” he said.

While the terrain in North Texas holds fossilized treasures, because limestone is the predominant rock, collectors can’t expect to find many coveted specimens lying around locally, Candler said. They may have to wander over to East Texas where petrified wood can be found, or to the Big Bend area which has some of the finest agates in the world.

Gem and mineral enthusiasts also score finds during field trips conducted on private ranches. Different parts of the country produce different types of specimens, Candler said, pointing to a display of tree-like, dendritic gold in one of the museum’s regular exhibits and noting that many examples come out of California. He also said some of the finest specimens were hauled out of mines inside a miner’s lunchbox.

Candler said while rock picks are essential, a rock hunter’s most important tool is a dollar squirt bottle with water in it to help get the dirt off so a person can tell whether or not they want to carry a rock back to their car. All rock hounds collect “leaverite,” Candler said, which he described as “a rock you want to leave right there.”

“You don’t want to carry 500 pounds of rocks back to your car,” he said.

A green beryl, or emerald, necklace.

A green beryl, or emerald, necklace.
courtesy Perot Museum

Minerals form inside a hollow spot of a molten rock, Candler explained, and when fluid cools off fast crystals grow. But the slower it cools, the bigger the crystals. Slow cooling air pockets within the earth give minerals a chance to find each other, he said, so you might have a pocket of fluorite, quartz, aquamarine and topaz all together.

“Usually you’ve got a bunch of elements combined to make one mineral,” said Candler, who studied geology prior to business and real estate at SMU. READ MORE


Cal Jillson, Political Science, provides historical precedent rivaling 2016’s nasty presidential campaign


Originally Posted: October 10, 2016

In a presidential debate that got more personal than perhaps any other debate before, the reviews are in.

On the WFAA Facebook page, viewer comments included people calling Clinton and Trump “two absolutely ridiculous candidates” who “both live in glass houses” in a “disgusting and appalling election” participating in a “pathetic” debate.

Has America ever seen anything like it?

“Probably not, in public,” said UT Arlington political science professor Allan Saxe. But he, along with a fellow debate-watching expert across town, reminded us of a couple of points of context.

“In the 19th century, there were very personal debates and campaigns,” said political science professor Cal Jillson at SMU.

Jillson pointed to Thomas Jefferson and John Adams as an example. The year was 1800, Adams was running for re-election against Jefferson, his own vice-president.

Jefferson’s camp publicly described President Adams of having a “hideous hermaphroditical character.” Adams’ camp responded by accusing Jefferson of fathering a mixed-race child with one of his slaves.

“We now know that that was true,” Jillson said of the accusation against Jefferson. “But that was considered to be a way-below-the-belt charge back in the day.”

And Saxe brought up another topic to consider, perhaps in Trump’s favor.

He said to think about President Harry Truman. While Saxe says Truman was a great president, he says Truman was not necessarily good with words in an off-the-cuff public debate.

“They viewed [Truman] as a man who was not prepared to be president. He was a politician,” Saxe said. “And, by the way, he could curse, too, a couple of times!”

But while each expert downplayed the outlandishness of the latest debate, they agreed on two things: Trump is way behind in the polls.

“He solidified his base of 40 percent, but he didn’t grow it at all,” Jillson said. “And 40 percent doesn’t win you a presidential election.”

They also agreed debate No. 3 should be a doozy.

“On Oct. 19, it could be wilder than the second one,” Saxe said.


SMU Lecture Oct. 20: Political Leanings May Be Genetic

Originally Posted: October 11, 2016

Fear and disgust reflexes correlate with stronger conservative values

DALLAS (SMU) – In the past 30 years, scientists have discovered that traits like alcoholism, sexual orientation and being left-handed are determined genetically, rather than by an individual’s environment. Now, Rice Political Science Professor John R. Alford wants to add another trait to that list: political inclination.

It’s a line of research that could give a whole new meaning to “the politics of fear.”

“The stronger your startle reflex, the more likely you are to favor a conservative national defense policy or Trump’s idea to build a wall,” Alford says. “We do the same thing with disgust. People vary by how easily disgusted they are at rotten food or maggots, and the more easily disgusted you are the less likely you are to support abortion or gay marriage or divorce or adultery – socially conservative values.”

Alford will present his research during a free, public lecture at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, in Dallas Hall’s McCord Auditorium. He said he hopes that guests who attend his lecture will come away with a new understanding of how to communicate with people whose politics they disagree with.

“Politics isn’t as intellectual as we think of it,” Alford says. “We have this idea that if we get in a room and act like adults and share a cup of coffee and talk that we could get rid of this basic conflict and come together, but the truth is that left-right, Athens vs. Sparta conflict has been there throughout human history.”

“I want people to accept their political opponents aren’t choosing to be dangerous morons,” Alford says. “They were born that way”

Alford’s lecture is sponsored by the Dedman College interdisciplinary Institute (DCII).


At a Glance

  • What: Rice Political Science Professor John R. Alford will discuss his research into whether some political beliefs are inherited, rather than learned behavior.
  • Who’s invited: The event is free and open to the public.
  • When: 5 p.m. reception, 5:30 p.m. lecture, Thursday, Oct. 20
  • Where: McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall, 3225 University Blvd.
  • Sponsor: The Allman Family Lecture Series through the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute


Contact Kenny Ryan,, 214-768-7641

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