The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Professors share political insight

Although newspapers, news shows and the Internet are all traditional ways to find information on the Texas governor elections, SMU students have resources on their own campus to gain insight.

SMU professors have a long history in the political realm, specializing in an array of areas, from the Texas economy to the accuracy of statistics.

The race between Republican Gov. Rick Perry and former Houston Mayor Democrat Bill White will continue to heat up as it gets closer to Election Day, Nov. 2.

According to the “Texas Survey of 500 Likely Voters” conducted on Aug. 22 by Rasmussen Reports (an electronic media company that collects, publishes and distributes public opinion polling information), Perry has taken the lead— 49 percent to 41 percent. Since Feb. 1, Rasmussen Reports has reported statistics from the race, and Perry has been leading by an average of 7.75 percent.

While Perry is in the lead, White has been trying to make a come-back. Recently, an advertisement created by Back to Basics, a political action committee, accused Perry of being a coward.

Carolyn Barta, SMU professor of journalism and political reporter, believes the advertisement is a prediction of what the race will be like from now on.

“I think the recent ad suggests the governor’s race is going to get more hard-hitting as it goes,” Barta said. “White’s strategy has to be to get more attention, and this kind of ad will get it for him,” she continued.

Many might believe political advertisements like this may have the capacity to backlash, but Barta thinks differently.

“Despite what people think, negative advertising usually works,” she said.

Although this advertisement might have caused some commotion, Dr. Cal Jillson, SMU professor of political science, believes Perry will continue to stay in the lead.

“Because Perry is ahead, he is refusing to debate White, and it is hard to see how White wins without a chance to go toe-to-toe with Perry in a high profile debate,” Jillson said. “Texans care about schools, and White is attacking Perry on the poor performance of public schools on his watch, but it is unlikely to be enough.”

Although this is what the current polls are reporting, there is no way to tell who will win the election.

“A rule of thumb is that the further in advance of the election the poll is taken, the less accurate it is likely to be,” Dr. Lynne Strokes, SMU professor of statistical science, said. “People are less apt to accurately say if they will vote and…the longer the lead time, the more time they will have to change their minds.”

Dr. Tom Fombry, SMU professor of economics, believes people should be looking out for five major factors when choosing a candidate. “Are the candidates supportive of small businesses and education, equitable and fair to those with lesser means, efficient in regulating state banks, financial markets and industries with propensities toward polluting our environment, inclined to provide prudent management of state finances with proper priorities set for state policies and providing a good public face for the state to outside constituencies?” 

For students who are interested in learning more about the Texas elections, Barta suggests following The Dallas Morning News’ Trailblazers blog.


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