Jeffrey Engel, Center for Presidential History, Democrats benefit from holding convention after GOP


SMU News

Originally Posted: July 25, 2016

Convention Experts: 

Democrats aim to keep Philadelphia focused on Trump
GOP had hoped to avoid catastrophe in Cleveland

Jeffrey-A-EngelIt’s long been tradition that the two major political parties alternate the orders of their conventions, with the Democrats going first every eight years and the Republicans going first for the presidential elections in between.

This year, the Democrats will look to make the most of that positioning.

“As a general principal, going second is in your advantage and the reason is you get to rebut and retort everything your opponents say,” Engel says. “If we look back in recent conventions, particularly 1988, 1996 and 2008, each time the party that went first got a big bump in the polls, but then the party that went second cut into the lead and one of the reasons is obvious: When people hear a convincing case, they’re convinced, and when you hear one side of the argument without interruption, it’s very convincing.”

Engel admits, however, that the “without interruption” bit might become a relic of a bygone age this year.

“In previous years, parties were remarkably respectful of whoever goes first, the other party goes quiet, and whoever goes second, the first party goes quiet, and I don’t anticipate that in the least this summer,” Engel says. “I anticipate Donald Trump will be live-tweeting during the Democratic affair. The difference is now candidates can use social media to reach voters instantly without journalists between them. Before, the reason for a convention was all the cameras in the world faced you at once. Now, you don’t need the cameras. Now you can tweet.” READ MORE

Post-Gondwana Africa and the vertebrate history of the Angolan Atlantic Coast

Memoirs of Museum Victoria

Originally Posted: July 25, 2016

Authors: Louis L. Jacobs1, MichaelJ. Polcyn1, Octávio Mateus, Anne S. Schulp, António Olímpio Gonçalves and Maria Luísa Morais

  1. Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas 75275, United States (; 

Abstract: The separation of Africa from South America and the growth of the South Atlantic are recorded in rocks exposed along the coast of Angola. Tectonic processes that led to the formation of Africa as a continent also controlled sedimentary basins that preserve fossils. The vertebrate fossil record in Angola extends from the Triassic to the Holocene and includes crocodylomorph, dinosaur, and mammaliamorph footprints, but more extensively, bones of fishes, turtles, plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, crocodiles, and cetaceans. Pterosaurs, dinosaurs, and land mammals are rare in Angola. The northward drift of Africa through latitudinal climatic zones provides a method for comparing predicted paleoenvironmental conditions among localities in Angola, and also allows comparison among desert and upwelling areas in Africa, South America, and Australia. South America has shown the least northward drift and its Atacama Desert is the oldest coastal desert among the three continents. Africa’s northward drift caused the displacement of the coastal desert to the south as the continent moved north. Australia drifted from far southerly latitudes and entered the climatic arid zone in the Miocene, more recently than South America or Africa, but in addition, a combination of its drift, continental outline, a downwelling eastern boundary current, the Pacific Ocean to Indian Ocean throughflow, and monsoon influence, make Australia unique. READ MORE

Matthew Wilson, Political Science, in USA Today commenting on Hillary Clinton’s choice for VP

USA Today

Originally Posted: July 23, 2016

“It’s a good pick. It’s a safe pick,” said Matthew Wilson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, of Kaine. “Kaine doesn’t have many vulnerabilities or weaknesses. He won’t fire up the liberal base, but Hillary Clinton thinks Donald Trump will do that.” READ MORE

In defiance, Cruz perpetuates image of fractured GOP


Originally Posted: July 21, 2016

The unity that leaders in the Republican party were struggling to present to voters in this election cycle took a major blow Wednesday at the hands of the man who had once pledged to be the candidate they could coalesce around.

Ted Cruz stuck to his guns on Thursday, remaining adamant in his refusal to endorse Donald Trump, regardless of how damaging it may be to himself, or the party he is a part of.

In reacting to Cruz’s speech, Matthew Wilson, an associate professor of Political Science at Southern Methodist University, noted it brings back certain perceptions people have had about the Republican Party.

“It certainly reinforces the sense that the party is divided, that there are still significant doubts about [Trump’s] commitment to conservative principals and that’s not the message of unity that the party would ideally hope to project coming out of Cleveland,” Wilson said. READ MORE

Trump’s acceptance speech sets everything right


Originally Posted: July 22, 2016


Matthew Wilson


Trump kept surprises to a minimum during his acceptance speech, says Wilson, focusing on red meat instead.

“Trump didn’t pivot, he doubled down,” Wilson says. “His most powerful lines were about being a champion for forgotten working people. He is what he is, and the message and tone aren’t changing. We’ll see if it works.”

Wilson added that it was, “Interesting that Trump explicitly reached out to both gays and evangelicals,” but noted most of the speech focused on fear, not hope.

“Trump is betting that Americans are uneasy and looking for more acknowledgement of their anxieties than soaring, optimistic rhetoric,” Wilson says. “One of the songs playing in the hall after Trump won the nomination was ironic … ‘You can’t always get what you want.’” READ MORE

Matthew Wilson, Political Science, on Trump’s upcoming speech


Originally Posted: July 20, 2016

Trump To Take The Spotlight

The Republican Nominee for President takes the stage at the Republican National Convention Thursday Night. We asked Matthew Wilson at SMU what we can expect to hear from Donald trump.

He says to not expect the conventional political speech form Trump because there is nothing conventional about him.

Wilson says Trump needs to show a more approachable, humanistic side of himself to help get him over with Republicans who are not ready to support him. LISTEN

Tower Center Associate Edward Rincón’s research featured in the Dallas Morning News


Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: July 20, 2016

Tower Center Associate Edward T. Rincón was featured in the Dallas Morning News discussing his research company’s recent study about the affects of the growing Latino population in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  READ MORE

Meet the Scientist: Eveline Kuchmak, an SMU alumna and current Manager of Temporary Exhibitions at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science

The Rock Report

Originally Posted: July 18, 2016

Meet: Eveline Kuchmak

Another Southern Methodist University alumna (Pony Up!), Eveline graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Economic Sociology. Growing up she “lived for trips to art and science museums, space camp, Pony Club veterinary workshops, and the latest issue of National Geographic.” She was homeschooled for much of her childhood and her parents always made sure she had a healthy dose of curiosity. After graduation, she attended archaeological field school in New Mexico which only reinforced her desire to discover new things and share these experiences. This path has led her to a career inspiring others through science museums.

She began working at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in education and public programs; however, at the beginning of this year she transitioned into her new role as Manager of Temporary Exhibits. READ MORE


Texas GOP leaders haul in campaign cash

Houston Chronicle

Originally Posted: July 18, 2016

AUSTIN – Texas’ most prominent Republican leaders are building big – in some cases enormous – political war chests more than 18 months ahead of their next election.

From Gov. Greg Abbott to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to Attorney General Ken Paxton, statewide officials are flush with millions of dollars in the bank well ahead of the 2018 re-election season, new records show.

The lone exception: Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, whose first term in a statewide office has been marred by controversy. Miller’s campaign reported just $63,000 in the bank, by the far the lowest of any statewide official.

New campaign finance reports released over the weekend show just how much money Republican state leaders have banked since taking office last year.

Abbott has amassed $28.6 million, easily surpassing the $20 million in campaign cash he had when he launched his last gubernatorial bid. Patrick, who as lieutenant governor is considered the state’s second-most powerful politician, has nearly $9.3 million in the bank.

Far in advance

Statewide officials will not be on the ballot again until the March 2018 Republican primary. Most are expected to cruise through that process uncontested, leaving the real election test more than two years away.

But some could draw opponents in the primary that could require substantial spending to thwart, said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. READ MORE