Patrick Caddell

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Patrick Caddell
Patrick Caddell by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Caddell at the 2014 CPAC
Patrick Hayward Caddell

(1950-05-19)May 19, 1950
DiedFebruary 16, 2019(2019-02-16) (aged 68)
Occupationpollster, political firm consultant

Patrick Hayward Caddell (May 19, 1950 – February 16, 2019)[1] was an American public opinion pollster and a political film consultant who served in the Carter administration and worked on presidential campaigns.

Life and career[edit]

Caddell with Jimmy Carter in November 1977

Caddell was born in Rock Hill, South Carolina and graduated from Harvard University.[2] He worked for Democratic presidential candidates George McGovern in 1972, Jimmy Carter in 1976 and 1980, Gary Hart in 1984, Joe Biden in 1988, and Jerry Brown in 1992. He also worked for Colorado Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff in 2010.[3] Caddell persuaded Carter to focus in 1976 on the "trust factor", rather than divisive political issues in the 1976 campaign, a strategy which led, narrowly, to victory. The Arkansas political scientist and pollster Jim Ranchino declared the then 26-year-old Caddell "the best pollster in the business."[4] According to researchers, Caddell had wide influence in the Carter White House, and was the chief advocate of what later became known as Carter's "malaise speech".[5]

Caddell served as a consultant to various movies and television shows, most notably the movies Running Mates, Air Force One, Outbreak, In the Line of Fire, and the serial drama The West Wing. He was also a marketing consultant on Coca-Cola's disastrous New Coke campaign.[6]

In 1988, Caddell left Democratic consulting firm Caddell, Doak and Shrum after what The Washington Post described as an "acrimonious lawsuit".[7] Republicans would often cite Caddell's tirades against the Democratic Party when they spoke on the floor of the House and the Senate.[8][9][10]

Caddell's analysis on polls and campaign issues often put him at odds with the leadership of the Democratic Party. He was criticized by Media Matters for America and Salon columnist Steve Kornacki for predicting negative consequences for the Democratic Party.[11][12] He called environmentalism "a conspiracy 'to basically deconstruct capitalism.'"[3]

Caddell was a regular guest on Fox News, and at the time of his death was listed as an official "Fox News Contributor". This earned him the label of a "Fox News Democrat" by critics such as liberal online opinion magazine Salon.[3] He also frequently appeared on the conservative Web site, discussing politics.[13][14][15]

According to online magazine Slate, Caddell was involved in identifying people willing to participate in the 2012 anti-Obama documentary The Hope and the Change, produced by Steve Bannon and Citizens United.[16]

In the 2016 election cycle, Caddell exerted considerable influence in his capacity as advisor to Republican contributor Robert Mercer, who was a major fundraiser for the successful candidacy of Donald Trump.[17]

Campaign style[edit]

According to a 1987 profile in the Washington Monthly:

Caddell believes the key to winning contemporary elections is appealing to 'alienated' voters—that ever-growing group of mostly younger voters who are not easily identified as liberal or conservative and don't trust government, politicians, or the parties. You can't lure these voters with programs and stands on specific issues, so the theory goes. Rather, you must remain as uncommitted as they are. You lure them by attacking that which caused their alienation: the Establishment. Even if he were inclined to help his candidate address the nation's substantive problems and articulate a coherent package of solutions, he'd have trouble.[6]


After suffering a stroke, Caddell died on February 16, 2019, at age 68 in Charleston, South Carolina.[1]


  1. ^ a b Roberts, Sam (February 16, 2019). "Patrick Caddell, Self-Taught Pollster Who Helped Carter to White House, Dies at 68". The New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  2. ^ Rosenthal, Andrew (November 12, 1987). "WASHINGTON TALK: POLITICAL OPERATIVES; Remember Pat Caddell, Boy Star? So Do Capital's Insiders, and How!". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b c Pareene, Alex (November 22, 2010). "Pat Caddell: The pollster and ultimate Fox Democrat". Salon.
  4. ^ The Blytheville, Arkansas, Courier News, June 11, 1976, p. 3
  5. ^ Heath, Diane J.: "Staffing the White House public opinion apparatus", "Public Opinion Quarterly, Smith, R: "Size of the Moon", 62:2 (1998)
  6. ^ a b Glastris, Paul (October 1, 1987). "The powers that shouldn't be; five Washington insiders the next Democratic president shouldn't hire". Washington Monthly. Archived from the original on August 30, 2017. Alt URL
  7. ^ "The Media Barons: Top Political Admakers" (On Politics). The Washington Post. April 30, 2000.
  8. ^ "Was Time Magazine Playing Politics with Its 2006 Person of the Year Cover?" (This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," December 18, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.). Fox News. December 19, 2006. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  9. ^ "Bad News for the Kids..." Fox News. February 28, 2006. Archived from the original (The O'Reilly Factor (partial transcript)) on May 1, 2017. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  10. ^ "This Poll Is Designed to Produce Certain Results". Fox News. March 26, 2005. Archived from the original (Fox News Live (transcript)) on June 18, 2006. Retrieved February 26, 2007. Alt URL
  11. ^ Andrew Seifter; Jeremy Cluchey (September 16, 2004). "Who is Pat Caddell?". Media Matters. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  12. ^ Steve Kornacki (March 12, 2010). "Pat Caddell predicting ruin for Democrats – again". Salon. Retrieved June 1, 2013.
  13. ^ "Ricochet Podcast #64: Hey Now | Ricochet". April 9, 2011. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  14. ^ "Ricochet Podcast #39: The Shrinking Violets | Ricochet". October 14, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  15. ^ "Ricochet Podcast #95: A Pre-Revolutionary Moment | Ricochet". November 26, 2011. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  16. ^ Weigel, David (September 18, 2012). "We Are the 5 or 6 or 7 Percent; Has Mitt Romney introduced you to those sad Obama voters? He soon will". Slate. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  17. ^ Mayer, Jane (March 17, 2017). "The Reclusive hedge-fund tycoon behind the Trump presidency". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 24, 2017.

External links[edit]