WASHINGTON. Speaking truth to power was the business of Democratic pollster Patrick Caddell, 68. He died Saturday due to complications from a stroke he suffered at his home in Charleston, South Carolina according to an academic colleague, Professor Kendra Stewart of the College of Charleston. According to Fox News, South Carolina was actually Caddell’s home state.
“Caddell was born in [Rock Hill] South Carolina on May 19, 1950. He lived in Massachusetts and Florida during his childhood, among other places, as a result of his father’s role in the Coast Guard….”
Speaking truth to power
Back in 1980, major news outlets predicted the presidential contest would be close. They gave the Democratic White House occupant Jimmy Carter the edge over his GOP challenger Ronald Regan, citing the power of incumbency.
But Patrick Caddell, Carter’s pollster, had different numbers. He ultimately had to tell his boss that another Carter Presidential term was not to be. But on election eve, he showed the president his data. “It’s all over,” Caddell told Carter.
He was right.
On election day, the Associated Press sent a photo around the world through its news wire. In it, the vanquished Carter is seen emerging from the voting booth, a grimace on his face as tears stream down his cheeks.
Patrick Caddell and his perspicacious prognostications
In 2016, Democrats should have gotten that déjà vu feeling all over again.
In October of that year, Caddell was asked by Neil Cavuto of Fox News to comment on polls showing Hillary Clinton with a winning advantage over Donald Trump.
He answered by citing polls showing that 60 percent of Americans believed the nation was heading “in the wrong direction.” He mentioned another that gave Obamacare a negative 20-point disadvantage. And then there were those “weak numbers on foreign policy.” Finally, among Americans asked if they wanted “to continue with Obama policies or change them… those numbers are almost twenty points for change.”
Having presented the case against Obama’s policies and the 2016 Democratic candidate who pledged to continue them, Caddell returned his attention to the lopsided Clinton polls with the following quip.
“If you think none of that matters, then you can have a landslide like this.”
Hillary’s glowing polls were wrong. Caddell, once again, was right.
Caddell knew the crucial difference between the Evil Party and the Stupid Party
Shortly after Trump entered the Oval Office, the lifelong Democrat noted the difference between Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
“Democrats in the end, in a crisis, will band together. As they did for Bill Clinton during the impeachment hearings when they thought the Republicans went too far. Even with Obama, even though most those people on the Hill – a lot of them couldn’t stand him.”
And his view of Congressional Republicans?
“These people will drop or fall apart or flake apart… they get scared out of their jockstraps by the other side… Republicans are easy to spook. They will not stand and fight the way Democrats do when they feel threatened.”
Did Caddell leave the Democrats? Or, like Reagan, did the party leave him?
While Patrick Caddell remained a lifelong Democrat, he appeared increasingly to move toward the right. But he would dispute that observation. Like Ronald Reagan, he claimed he’d remained a Democrat while the party itself had moved far to the left.
Left-wing commentator Eleanor Clift observed Caddell’s apparent change of political heart in an article she contributed to Saturday’s online edition of The Daily Beast.
“Last year, in November, Caddell spoke on a panel with former Trump strategist Steve Bannon at David Horowitz’s Restoration Weekend Conference in Florida. He cited a raft of numbers that explained Trump’s victory in 2016, according to an article on the Breitbart news site. Seventy-five percent of Americans believed the country was in decline; only 15 percent of U.S. citizens believe that if you work hard, you will succeed, while 85 percent of Americans think the rich and powerful rigged the system for their benefit.
“‘This is ultimately the truth,’ Caddell said. ‘Political leaders are more interested in protecting their power and privilege than doing what is right for the American people, 81 percent of Americans agree.’ He declared ‘Make America Great Again’ the greatest slogan of his lifetime.”
Conservative media discoverd in Patrick Caddell a bracing ability to observe political reality
It’s not surprising, then, that Caddell in recent years was a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel. He also contributed to Breitbart News and often guested on Breitbart’s SiriusXM shows.
“His willingness to challenge conventional political wisdom – combined with his decades of campaign experience – set him apart as a strategist who got things right when so many others got them wrong. This was strikingly obvious in 2016, when Caddell was the sole pollster to understand Donald Trump’s voters and the New York builder’s path to victory.”
PJ Media contributor Michael Walsh knew Caddell. He offered his clear-eyed insights on the pollster in an appreciation he penned upon learning of Caddell’s sudden death.
“Profound, perceptive, and utterly unable to suffer fools gladly, Pat resembled in appearance and presentation an Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah perhaps, thundering as he tried to make people see the light.
“He had only seemingly moved rightward from the time of his service to Jimmy Carter as his pollster and adviser, to his embrace of Trump. But Pat had not moved; rather the world had moved around him. Pat remained devoted to the Constitution, to moral goodness, and to the absolute necessity of doing what was right, even at great personal cost. He was the last honorable Democrat, and he knew it. ” (Italics CDN)
Where the late Pat Caddell is concerned, no legacy is so rich as his honesty.
Top Image: Democratic pollster Pat Caddell. Fox News screen capture.