Patrick Hayward Caddell (May 19, 1950 – February 16, 2019) 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
Caddell was born in Rock Hill, South Carolina and graduated from Harvard University. 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. 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." 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".
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.
In 1988, Caddell left Democratic consulting firm Caddell, Doak and Shrum after what The Washington Post described as an "acrimonious lawsuit". Republicans would often cite Caddell's tirades against the Democratic Party when they spoke on the floor of the House and the Senate.
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. He called environmentalism "a conspiracy 'to basically deconstruct capitalism.'"
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. He also frequently appeared on the conservative Web site Ricochet.com, discussing politics.
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.
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.
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.
After suffering a stroke, Caddell died on February 16, 2019, at age 68 in Charleston, South Carolina.