This story first appeared here.

Campaign 2012: SMU's Experts Weigh in on the Big Issues

SMU Magazine Fall/Winter 2011

THE BUMPY PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN SEASON WILL ONLY BECOME MORE TURBULENT AS THE NOVEMBER 6, 2012, ELECTION DRAWS CLOSER. THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS, USA TODAY, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR AND THE WASHINGTON POST ARE AMONG THE MEDIA OUTLETS THAT RECENTLY HAVE CALLED ON SMU EXPERTS TO HELP UNRAVEL THE RHETORIC. BELOW, SMU MAGAZINE QUOTES FROM THE SCHOLARS WHO ARE DROWNING OUT THE POLITICAL NOISE AND AMPLIFYING THE SALIENT ISSUES:

Uncertainty and high anxiety

Tom Fomby


What would an economist’s plan for the economy include, and what role does partisan politics play in voters’ apprehension about the future? Tom Fomby, professor of economics in Dedman College, offers these insights:

“One of the biggest inhibitors of economic growth is uncertainty in the minds of consumers concerning their jobs, taxes and retirement. There are several ways we can reduce that degree of uncertainty: Reform the Social Security system so as to make it actuarially sound for the next 50 years, invest in our country’s infrastructure as proposed in the bipartisan Kerry Hutchison Infrastructure Bank plan, and simplify the U.S. tax code to close special interest group tax loopholes.

“One of the greatest growth stimulators would be for Congress to move toward moderation and compromise in political views and away from purely ideological political stances.”

Fomby, a research associate with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, is an expert on the Texas economy and its role in national and global economies. He also serves as a research associate in the surgery and epidemiology departments at UT Southwestern Medical Center, where he has applied time series and data mining techniques to medical research.

‘Slumped shoulders and heavy hearts’

Cal Jillson


Political Science Professor Cal Jillson in Dedman College describes the mood of the American electorate this way:

“Most voters seem unenthused with their 2012 choices. As the economy continues to labor, voters must choose between Republican candidates and policies that many believe led to the economic collapse and Democratic candidates and policies that all see have not been able to resolve the difficulties. Voters will shuffle toward the polls with slumped shoulders and heavy hearts.”

Jillson is an author and frequent commentator on domestic and international politics. His next book, Lone Star Tarnished, which will be published early next year, is an analysis of the shortcomings of Texas public policy.

‘Personal, retail politics at its best’

Rita Kirk


The growing importance of social media and the impact of “ideological voters” have set the stage for a tempestuous election year, says communications expert Rita Kirk:

“Many people forget that the Obama campaign hired Chris Hughes, one of the Facebook founders, to create his 2008 social media campaign. It revolutionized modern campaigning because the voters were more engaged in the process; it was personal, retail politics at its best. The candidates in the 2012 primaries have not shown a similar interest in grassroots campaigning, but the Republican Party will have to assemble a top-notch team to compete.

“This has been a fascinating early campaign season. Ideological voters such as those who identify themselves with the Tea Party are much more aggressive in asserting their influence early in the campaign season as compared to similar groups in past elections. The result is that they have been able to set the agenda for the Republican debates.”

Kirk is director of SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor of Communication Studies in Meadows School of the Arts. Kirk and Dan Schill, assistant professor conducted dial-testing focus groups for CNN.

Sin and ‘spinmeisters’

William B. Lawrence


In a recent Huffington Post column, Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president, Union of Reform Judaism, wrote that Americans “fear the language of sin.” Would it be better if “sin” were part of the political vocabulary? Reporter Wayne Slater recently posed that question to theologian William B. Lawrence. Here is an excerpt from Lawrence’s answer, which was posted on The Dallas Morning News’ Texas Faith blog on October 25:

“I am opposed to adding the word ‘sin’ to the political vocabulary. … My opposition stems from my desire to prevent yet another theologically defined word from falling captive to the political classes and spinmeisters. We have already seen the word ‘evangelical’ become useless in its original theological context, because it has been so corrupted by political commentators and schemers that one can no longer utter it unless one intends to be understood as making a point about conservative political perspectives. Even the word ‘religion’ has lost its value in public discourse. …”

Lawrence is dean and professor of American church history at Perkins School of Theology. His newest book, Ordained Ministry in The United Methodist Church, was published this fall.

Surveying the polls

Lynne Stokes


Polling has become an important strategic tool in politics, but Lynne Stokes, professor of statistical science in Dedman College, warns consumers to look at the polling organizations as closely as they look at the candidates:

“New communication technologies have made data collection so much faster now that public opinion can be monitored nearly in real time. News organizations love this, because they are always looking for a story, preferably for a competitive edge. Advances in survey methods have also improved polling accuracy.

“The organization that conducts the poll is an important indicator of its validity. The best-performing pollsters are usually non-partisan survey research companies or university research centers. Organizations
that publish their methods, including sample sizes, margins of error and statements about how they limit nonresponse error, are usually more reliable.”

Stokes is an expert in surveys, polls and sampling, as well as in non-sampling survey errors, such as errors by interviewers and respondents. Her recent research for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has focused on the improvement of data collection and estimation of fish harvests.

Fueling the economy

Bernard L. “Bud” Weinstein


Independent voters will be drawn to a sound, economic recovery plan, according to economist Bernard L. Weinstein:

“Since we’re not likely to see much net job creation between now and election day, the dominant issue on the campaign trail will be the economy. The candidate who can put forward the most credible and affordable program for reviving the moribund economy should be able to attract the growing ranks of independent voters.

“A sound, domestically-focused energy strategy can also be a job creation plan. Though proposals to increase oil and gas production in the U.S. will appeal to voters in most Southern and Western states, energy development is not likely to resonate with voters in the northeast and California.”


Weinstein is associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute and an adjunct professor of business economics in the Cox School of Business.

Politics and religion

Matt Wilson

 
The presidential campaign may be as much about religion as it is about the economy, says political scientist Matt Wilson:

“Religion inevitably will be a major theme of the 2012 campaign, even if the economy is supposedly the central issue. As it has been for the past several electoral cycles, the partisan gap between regular church attenders and the nonreligious will be greater than that between rich and poor, men and women, the employed and the unemployed. Religious and secular Americans have simply come to see the world in very different ways and that has translated into their political preferences.

“If the Republican candidate is Mitt Romney, then we can expect a bevy of stories on Mormonism. We can also, unfortunately, expect a range of subtle and not-so-subtle anti-Mormon attacks, both in the primaries and the general election. … We’ll have to see if America is ready to once again expand its definition of what constitutes an ‘acceptable’ president.”

Wilson, associate professor of political science in Dedman College, specializes in religion and politics, as well as public opinion, elections and political psychology.

News Room

News Archive 2014

News Archive 2013

News Archive 2012

2 Professors Are Brains Behind CNN

Seven Things Happening Today

80 Years Later

9/11 Reshaped Lives of Muslims

Allan Sloan on Marketplace

American Cynicism on Rise

American Dream Shattered

Annual Conference of the Professions

Art Blog of Sandie

BART Controversy Centers on Social Media

BART Social Media Crackdown Uncharted Legal Territory

Bauer incentive Scholarship

Campaign Hits Ground

Campaign 2012: SMU Experts Weigh In

Commemorating Nine Eleven

Council Fields Trip to SMU

Dallas Council to Attend Ethics Class

Dallas Council to Attend Ethics Conference

Dallas Fort Worth 9/11 Events

Dallas Mayor Discusses Education

Dallas Philanthropist Dies

Dallas City Officials Say Party Funds Sought Inappropriately

Dennis Simon speaks on civil rights movements 50th anniversary

DFW International Community Alliance

Distinguished Professor Dennis Simon Pressents "Politics of Memory and Legacy of Civil Rights" on Oct. 1

Eagle Scholars First in Families

Earning Trust Demand for Ethics Leadership

'E-Democracy' the new 'grassroots'

Engaged Learning

Ethical Leadership in Government

Ethics of Financial Transparency

Ethics Trust & Transparency Conference

Frito Lay Plano Library Possibility

Frito Lay Plano Library Possibility

Future of Education KERA

Giveing perspective to the GOP Convention in Tampa Bay

GOP debates get physical

Gov Perry Hits Pres Campiagn Trail

Humann Recieves Reward

Humann Recognized

Is it Okay for Women to Curse at Work

Letters to the President

KERA Future of Education

Kimberly Clark Wins Ethics Award

Komen Reverses Cut to Planned Parenthood

KRLD Interviews Two SMU Professors About Their Dial Testing Technology

Leadership in Government Ethics

Legacies of September 11th

Legacies of September 11th D-Mag

Dial Testing in South Carolina

Looking back and ahead

Maguire Center Helps Students

Marin of Error: Two Candidates, Two Journeys, One lost race of dreams

Medallion Awards: Rita Kirk

Muslims Fight for Acceptance

Mustangs Jump into DNC Politics

September 11 Memorial Events at SMU

Oil Comapny and Houston settle 20 years of wrangling

In online journal, SMU students share memories of 9/11

9/11 Blog- Dallas Morning News

Panel Discusses Civil Liberites

Pegasus News: 9/11 Week

PolicyPulse Tests

Practical Advice from Commuication Experts

Prosecution of Top Government Offiicals for Torture

In Public and Private Forth Worth Residents Remember 9/11

Rais Bhuiyan of Dallas speaks message of forgiveness

Report on SMU Ethics Program

Report back: Yoo v. Pitts debate in Dallas

Responsible Business Leadership

Ryan's speech gives undecided voters mild nudge towards Romney

Share your 9/11 Story

SMU conference examines natinoal security and civil liberites

SMU Experts, organizations teach an electoral college 2012

SMU experts discuss Rick Perry's 2012 presidential run

SMU Experts: Rick Perry's quest for the presidency

SMU Eyes Bright Future

SMU's Home Opener on 9/11 to Feature Patriotic Theme, Special Military Tribute

SMU to honor tenth anniversary of 9/11

SMU honors 9/11 with thought provoking events

SMU honors distinguished alumni and emerging leader

SMU honors 9/11 with thought provoking events- SMU Website

SMU Hosts Luncheon Honoring Millitary Veterans

To Mark September 11 Anniversary, SMU Launches Website

SMU 9/11 Journal Helps Students Cope a Decade Later

SMU, Park Cities, Remember, Honor 9/11

SMU Student Honors 9/11 Victim Father

SMU Student Remembers Dad Who Died in 9/11

Brave New World: SMU to examine social media ethics in law, medicine, and religion

Christina Rancke

Strong Ethics Must Start at the Top

Student honors, volunteers in memory of her father

Tables of Content Tables Host- Rita Kirk

The Big Short Discussion Continues

Theology of Terorism Discussed

The Trust Barometer

To commemorate the 10th annivarsary of 9/11, SMU hosted a range of public events

Sepember 11th Anniversary Website- Dallas Observer

Across the Nation, Tragedy Spawned Inspiration

Turner reflects on September 11, 2001

University Ceremony Remembers Victims

Using Social Media to Tell Sandy's Story

SMU Voter Rally to be Part of SMU's Constitution Day 2012

On 9/11 Vows of Rememberance

Walt Humann to Recieve SMU Award

Website Raises Awarness

Wat connects with political convention viewers

Robin Lovin: what went wrong? 9/11

What Went Wong? PBS

News Archive 2011

Ethics Blog

www.smu.edu
© Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas | Legal Disclosures | A-Z Site Index | Contact SMU