Analysts Doubt Texas Is A Toss-Up State

CBS News

Originally Posted: October 24, 2016

Despite Donald Trump’s tightening poll numbers in Texas, Republicans like Cathie Adams, say their confidence isn’t shaken.

“I think he’s going to win Texas hands-down. I don’t trust the polls, but I do trust Texans, and I love Texans and I think Texans can think for themselves and we don’t have to look at a poll to know how to vote,” said Adams.

But Democrats like Rhonda Glenn are optimistic about Hillary Clinton’s chances. READ MORE

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Texas no longer solid Republican


Originally Posted: October 20, 2016

A Fox News electoral vote map now lists Texas as ‘leans Republicans,’ not the ‘solid Republican’ that the state has been for decades.

18 states remain ‘solid Republican,’ including much of the Mountain West, the deep south and Indiana and West Virginia.

But the shift of what has been the most Republican state in the union out of the ‘solid Republican’ list is an indication of several trends, most notably the rising Hispanic population in Texas and the inability of Donald Trump to connect with that population.

Cal Jillson, a political analyst at SMU, says this doesn’t mean that Texas is ‘turning Blue,’ meaning leaning Democrat, but he does say it does show cracks in the solid Republican facade.

Read more:

Politics: 3rd debate quick analysis

SMU News

Originally Posted: October 20, 2016

(This is a section of a larger SMU news release. To read the full analysis CLICK HERE)



On Trump refusing to say he’d accept the election’s outcome…

  • “The biggest moment of this debate will be Trump’s equivocation on whether he’d accept the results of the election. That will dominate media coverage and is probably the final nail in the coffin of his campaign. It does, though, feed the conspiratorial grievance of the supporters who will watch the TV network that he likely plans to launch.”
  • “Refusing to say he’ll accept the results of the election is bad for Trump. He needs to go along with Pence and Ivanka and accept the legitimacy of the electoral system. Trump was doing well in this debate until he refused to concede electoral legitimacy. If you want to claim fraud afterwards, with evidence, fine. But preemptively? That doesn’t play well.”

On the closing arguments…

  • “There was a real contrast in the closing statements. Clinton was positive and encouraging while Trump went on the attack. That’s because she’s winning right now and he’s losing.”

On whether Chris Wallace is playing fair…

  • “I’m surprised Chris Wallace let Clinton off the hook on Bill’s accusers. Why should Trump’s accusers be respected and believed but not Bill’s?”

On whether Trump admires Putin and Assad…

  • “There has been discussion here tonight of Trump ‘praising’ Putin and Assad. He denies it. I think they’re talking past each other. He often says they are strong, effective leaders who have been strategically successful. Is that praising despots, or just respecting your adversary’s strengths and capabilities?”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science with specific expertise in politics and religion

What solutions does religion offer for racial tensions?

SMU News

Originally Posted: October 19, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – As the nation grapples with simmering racial tensions, SMU’s new Center for Faith and Learning is gathering a panel of sociologists and religious scholars for a timely discussion, “Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter, or Something Else?” on Thursday, Oct. 27, to explore what role Christianity can play in solving these old challenges.

crowd“We want to demonstrate that the new center will speak to academically and socially relevant questions,” said Center for Faith and Learning director Matthew Wilson. “Race relations in America would be an example of something that is of academic interests to people in a lot of different disciplines and also really important to our society. This panel will look at the Black Lives Matter movement and the responses it has garnered, then evaluate it all through the perspective of Christian faith and sociology.”

The event will begin at 6 p.m. in SMU’s McCord Auditorium, following a 5:30 p.m. reception.

The panel’s featured speaker will be University of North Texas sociology professor George Yancey, who specializes in interracial contact and has authored books on multiracial churches.

Respondent panelists will include: SMU professor of church history Ted Campbell; SMU corporate communications professor Maria Dixon Hall, who also serves as Provost’s Senior Advisor for Campus Cultural Intelligence Initiatives; and Texas Women’s University sociology professor Bilal Sert.

“I think people, whatever their faith, may be interested in understanding what the country’s largest religious tradition says about this faith issue,” Wilson says. “This is a question where faith perspectives have a lot to say and contribute.” READ MORE

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.



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

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


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 political experts think Pence bested Kaine

SMU News

Originally Posted: October 5, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – To assist journalists covering Tuesday night’s presidential debate, SMU election experts provided real-time insights throughout the evening.  READ MORE



On Kaine’s unexpected death penalty answer…

  • “Very good answer from Kaine on the death penalty. It surprised me that he chose that issue, but it’s a smart choice – it shows him actually ignoring his faith to take conservative action.”

On the religious debate at the end…

  • “Pence wants to say that Kaine has sold out his faith, but he’s too nice to go there. The winner of the religion question depends on the audience. Each candidate resonated well with his base.”

On who won the debate…

  • “Pence was better. He was smoother and more likeable. He was strongest when he wasn’t talking about Trump. He made a great personal impression, but maybe less so for the ticket as a whole.”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science with specific expertise in politics and religion.