Experts: 2016 Republican and Democratic Conventions

As the Republican and Democratic Conventions approach, the following experts are available to provide comment, context and analysis: 

Harry Wilson, professor of public affairs and director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia.  “Trump needs to retain his outsider image, but he also needs to appear ‘presidential’ to attempt to broaden his appeal and convince party regulars that he’s not too loose of a cannon,” he says. “In order to do the latter, he must choose a vice president that helps to reassure the ‘old guard’ that a Trump administration would be rational. Clinton must convince the country she’s trustworthy. Those tasks are all orders for both candidates.”  Wilson can also talk about the possibility of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine to run on Clinton’s ticket; he has polled on Kaine’s appeal earlier this year. “Kaine could provide a very small boost in Virginia, but he is not well known outside the commonwealth. That said, he would be a solid choice, whom would neither overshadow Clinton, nor do anything to embarrass her.  CONTACT: (540) 992-1333 (home), (540) 375-2415 (office) and (540) 293-4206 (cell).

Seth Masket, associate professor of political science at the University of Denver and author of the book, “The Inevitable Party: Why Attempts to Kill the Party System Fail and How They Weaken Democracy” (Oxford University Press, 2016). “Modern party conventions have become pretty straightforward events that just ratify decisions that the party voters made months earlier,” he says. “This year could be different, particularly on the Republican side. There’s a significant chance we’ll see some delegates rebel against the party’s presumptive nominee and attempt to choice someone else. We could see some real drama on the floor in Cleveland.” CONTACT: (303) 518-4472 (cell), (303) 871-2718 (office) or

James Riddlesperger, department chair and professor of political science, Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX.  Jim’s areas of  expertise include U.S. presidents, American politics, civil rights and Texas politics. He has done research on special interest groups.  CONTACT: James Riddlesperger,, 817-257-6405.

David Ryden, professor of political science at Hope College in Holland, MI.  Dr. Ryden’s main areas of specialization are religion and politics, American constitutionalism and parties and elections.  He’s said that he’s available tomorrow and happy to help. CONTACT:, 616-395-7546.

Curt Smith, senior lecturer of English at the University of Rochester. Smith is a former presidential speechwriter for George H.W. Bush. CONTACT: (585) 426-7375 or

David McLennan, visiting professor of political science at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C. McLennan will be traveling with students to both the RNC and DNC and can be available for interviews before, during or after the events. CONTACT: or 919-345-7334 (cell).

Joel Weinberger, professor in the Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y. Weinberger studies how unconscious thoughts influence voter behavior, and recently he and a colleague tested unconscious perceptions of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They found that the word “likeable” was not associated with either candidate, but “scary” and “presidential” were associated with Clinton, while “bigot” and “leader” were associated with Trump. CONTACT: or 516-877-4816 (office). 

Melody Crowder-Meyer, assistant professor of political science at Sewanee: The University of the South, in Sewanee, Tenn. Melody's research interests are in American politics and she is specifically interested in gender and politics and political parties. CONTACT:, 931-598-1294 (office).