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Patrick Hayward "Pat" Caddell (born May 19, 1950) is an American public opinion pollster and a political film consultant.
Caddell was born in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He has 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 has 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 persuaded Jimmy 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".
His analysis on polls and campaign issues often puts him at odds with the current leadership of the Democratic Party. He has been criticized by media watchdogs and columnists for predicting negative consequences for the Democratic Party. Critics point out that he has defended the Bush administration by arguing that Republicans did not exploit the issue of gay marriage in the presidential election of 2004. He also denounced Democrats in the House who voted against the Palm Sunday Compromise, which sought to reinstate Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, as "cold blooded," and called environmentalism "a conspiracy 'to basically deconstruct capitalism.'"
Caddell is a regular guest on the Fox News Channel, and he is listed as an official 'Fox News Contributor'. This has earned him the label of a "Fox News Democrat" by critics such as liberal opinion magazine Salon.com. He has also frequently appeared on the conservative website Ricochet.com discussing politics.
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. Caddell understands polling, public opinion, and campaigning, but his knowledge of and interest in government is scant.