Election Day outcome and the response to it

SMU experts are available for interview on all things related to the conclusion of the presidential race and the repercussions of how election night develops.

Media Contact:
Kenny Ryan


DALLAS (SMU)SMU experts are available for interview on all things related to the conclusion of the presidential race and the repercussions of how election night develops. A full list of available faculty and their areas of expertise is available here.




On what the legacy of the 2016 presidential election will be…

  • “When we write the history of this election, it will be one of two ways. It will either be, ‘And then American civility and respect bottomed out and people recognized they needed to find a better means of discourse,’ or we will say, ‘And then we all realized America had no future and this was the bright shining moment American discourse died.’ I think it’s the former. I hope it’s the former. Nobody will write a history of this election as a positive example of American politics.”

On whether any politician has ever refused to concede before…

  • “Nobody has ever refused to concede the results of a certified election. Even on the eve of the Civil War, the secessionists didn’t dispute the results of the election. They recognized Abraham Lincoln won fair and square. Even though Lincoln’s name didn’t appear on ballots in any southern states, southerners still recognized he got more votes.
  • “It’s probably worth noting that Al Gore did not dispute the results of the 2000 election, either. when Florida election officials refused to certify the outcome on election night, he said he would not concede, but he stepped back from that and conceded once the results became certified.”

Engel is director of the SMU Center for Presidential History

Books published:

  • When Life Strikes the White House: Death, Scandal, Sickness and Personal Tragedies in the Oval Office, Jeffrey A. Engel and Thomas J. Knock, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017
  • Into the Desert: Reflections on the Gulf War, Jeffrey A. Engel, ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012
  • Rethinking Leadership and “Whole of Government” National Security Reform, with Joseph R. Cerami. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2010




On the two states that will determine the election…

  • “We could know the result pretty early in the evening. If either Florida or North Carolina goes for Hillary, then the election is basically over. Those are east coast states that should come in relatively soon, and Trump needs both to win.”

On how this election will impact future of GOP politics…

  • “I’m curious to see whether Trump is able to pick off any traditional Democratic states in the rust belt: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Minnesota. He’ll need at least one to win, and it will be a test of his populist strategy – this idea that running up your margins with blue-collar whites on a nativist platform can be a key to winning elections. If Trump fails, that strategy needs to be buried by the GOP – though to be fair to that strategy, the playbook for that tactic isn’t to have your candidate be a misogynist who talks badly about women.”
  • “This could be the election that breaks the GOP, which is really unexpected. Had the party been able to hold together, it was in a good position to run the table. A unified, energized and more traditional GOP could have won the White House, both houses of Congress, and been in position to nominate and confirm Antonin Scalia’s replacement on the Supreme Court – not to mention the strength it’s showed at the state level. The GOP had a very real chance of massive, unified control of government after this election cycle, but instead the party faces an uncertain future after the internal strains became too great to bear and manifested themselves in the candidacy of Trump.”
  • “If Trump wins, that’s even worse for the GOP than if he loses. A Trump victory would send the message that this populist, nativist message is a good strategy, and it’s not a good strategy in the long-term.”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science

Books published:

  • Politics and Religion in the United States. With Michael Corbett and Julia Corbett-Hemeyer. Routledge Press, 2013.
  • Understanding American Politics. With Stephen Brooks and Douglas L. Koopman. University of Toronto Press, 2013.
  • From Pews to Polling Places: Faith and Politics in the American Religious Mosaic. Georgetown University Press, 2007. Edited volume including authored chapter.




On some news outlets reporting outcomes before polls close…

  • “We are going to see some projections and results before the polls close on the East Coast, and it’s going to be really interesting to see how that plays out, how it’s received. More than anything else it might be a peek at how elections are tracked and called in the future.”
  • “Early voting is so much more pervasive than it was in 1980, when Carter conceded early before California finished voting. Ever since that election, journalists have been careful about when they call states and elections, but I’m not sure we can stop the flow toward real-time, transparent information that’s happening on the web.”
  • “You have to take this information in the wider context of how pervasive early voting is now to the overall election. We’ve seen day-by-day totals of early ballots cast by each party, and those ballots most-likely followed party lines, so we’re getting close to half the votes already cast. Election day turnout still matters, but it’s not the one day that decides the election to the degree it used to when media formed these best practices of waiting until the polls close to report outcomes. Human beings are attracted to wanting to know reliable information as soon as its available, and I don’t see how you reverse that trend, so we’ll see how it evolves on Tuesday but the inevitability of human nature and technology is we’ll see this continue to accelerate.”

Batsell is an SMU associate professor of Journalism and a social media specialist

Books published:





On the importance of acceptance and concession speeches…

  • “Both speeches have to do so much work, the responsible thing to do would be some work of reconciliation. Clinton will reach for what she’s channeled in recent rallies where she talks about being inclusive."
  • “In this election, the concession speech may be more important than the victory speech because tensions are running so high. Ardent supporters of each candidate frame the opponent as unqualified and illegitimate to hold the oval office. If Donald Trump should win a surprising victory and Clinton fails to recognize in a really profound way the validity of that, that will be problematic, but I think she’ll follow Al Gore’s footsteps in 2011 when he had to swallow a bitter pill that was certainly hard for his followers to swallow.”

On whether Trump is likely to concede a loss…

  • “A genuine Trump concession speech would go a long way toward healing this country. I don’t think he wants to have a political career after this. He won’t be governor somewhere, he won’t run for senate, so I don’t see what’s in it for him to continue denying the legitimacy of the process other than he hates to fail. Conceding means admitting failure, and that’s where the question rises, but he might just want to move on with his life. It’s not like he’s never admitted failure. He’s declared bankruptcy before. When the chips are down, he walks away.”

On whether anyone else on the GOP can effectively concede for Trump if he refuses…

  • “It has to come from Trump. In the aftermath of the election in a few weeks the GOP will have soul searching to do and it’s anyone’s guess what it looks like. But in the immediate aftermath if Trump doesn’t do something that approaches graciousness, we’ve never seen that before. The American democratic ethic is the peaceful transference of power where the losing side concedes. If he doesn’t do that, which I hope he will, no one can do that for him.”

Martin is an SMU assistant professor of Communication Studies in the Meadows School of the Arts

Can Discuss:

  • economic messages in political campaigns
  • presidential campaign strategy
  • religious voters and evangelical social movements


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