Political analyst Pat Caddell offered his take on the latest Breitbart News/Gravis poll on Tuesday morning’s Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Stephen K. Bannon.
The topline result of the poll had Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump 42% to 37%, in a four-way race which also included Libertarian Gary Johnson at 9% and the Green Party’s Jill Stein at 3%.
Caddell said he was particularly interested in segment of the survey that asked both the conventional “Is America on the wrong track?” question, and also “Is America seriously on the wrong track?”
“A little less than half the country said we were seriously off on the wrong track, and another quarter basically said we were off-track,” he noted. “What’s interesting is, if you drill down in some of those numbers, you find that, for instance, among young people, very high numbers — almost 70% on the wrong track, which is really high for them.”
Bannon asked why this powerful sense of the country being on the wrong track hasn’t translated to a polling advantage for Donald Trump.
“It’s not yet, in part, because I don’t think the election has joined around the issues,” Caddell replied. “We’re still in a very loosely-framed election, in which, right now, the press, all their attention has been devoted to — if you will, I can portray it as ‘anti-Trump,’ but I think that’s a mild understatement. And the Democrats, of course, have been hammering him, to keep it an election on personality.”
He said this “loose” focus on personality will keep the polls “very volatile,” until the focus shifts to issues during the presidential debates.
“When you start looking at how people think the country’s doing, the economy is doing — for instance, you’ve got a huge majority in this poll who show that they believe that America has gotten weaker internationally,” said Caddell.
“By the way, it’s interesting, when both questions are framed for people, to frame the election, the election is much closer, depending again on how you place the questions,” he observed.
Bannon asked why Trump’s campaign has not been able to shift the campaign narrative onto this favorable issue terrain.
“Part of it is Trump himself, and part of it is a campaign that has apparently — well, to be kind about it, the offensive campaign that they might have planned to do that wasn’t in place, before the candidate kind of moved the campaign to other things, that made his personality and himself the center of the issue,” answered Caddell.
“The issue here for him, which is clear, is that this is a country in trouble. This is a country where the economy and foreign policy are in trouble. And she represents — for a country that sees, by vast majorities, that the political class in Washington is corrupt, and rigging the system for themselves, that has not yet come center place,” he said.
“What they’re trying to do is disqualify him from the Presidency. He needs to now go back to saying, ‘Hey, wait a minute, what kind of country do you want to continue to have? The one that is, inevitably, slowly before our eyes, declining and not succeeding? Or do you want to take a chance on making things better? I can help you make things better.’ He has not engaged that. The minute he engages, this election will change amazingly,” Caddell predicted.
“She is locked in to what she is,” he said of Clinton. “All she can do is put up barriers, or throw up arguments, against Trump. Trump is the independent variable in this equation. He is the one that can force those things that matter to people to the front. That is what a change election is about.”
Bannon suggested that “the general population doesn’t know this is a change election,” with so much attention focused on the clash of personalities, and Trump’s negative qualities. Caddell faulted Trump and his campaign for lacking the preparation and discipline to impose their own narrative.
Caddell recalled working for Jimmy Carter’s reelection campaign in 1980, when “we had Reagan defined as a very risky and dangerous person,” but the outcome was “the only election that went in close and came out big,” in Reagan’s favor.
“It was because the people finally said, ‘Well, he’s okay. He’s enough okay. Boy, we’re really mad about the economy, and the hostages, whatever.’ That’s what we have in this election now,” said Caddell. “The problem for the Trump campaign is, they have not forced that definition — which, by the way, events and attitudes are so much worse than they were 35 years ago… they do believe that she is corrupt, and that she represents — she is the epitome, she is the epicenter of the political class, crony capitalism, and the way it works.”
“That they have not challenged that more specifically is the reason this campaign is off, because the press and the Democrats, particularly the press — whatever Trump says, they will find something to start trying to knock him down,” he charged.
Bannon advised Trump to prepare himself for even worse treatment from the press, if he should find a way to close his polling deficit against Clinton — an eventuality Bannon described as a “miracle,” while Caddell thought it was highly likely.
“He will close this gap. He will,” Caddell predicted. “And I’ll tell you, you’re right about the media. So, therefore, what do you do about that? You must take it to the level of not whining about the media. It’s not about whining. It is about that they are playing a detailed role, and a conscious role, in terms of protecting the political class, because they are the political class.”
He cited polling data that showed the American people have lost faith in the media, arguing that “two-thirds of them believe their level of objectivity and bias is as high as ever — they’re the lowest they’ve ever been, in Gallup.”
“They need to be challenged institutionally,” he said of the press. “Remember what they’re trying to do. They’re not trying just to knock Trump off. They need to suppress that which they have not been able to do all year, this rebellion out in the hinterlands, in both parties — whether it’s the Democrats’ revolt with Sanders, the Republican revolt with Trump — to suppress this instinct of the American people, to take control back of their country.”
“That’s the issue: who runs America?” Caddell declared. “And I’ll tell you, when you start elevating to those seminal issues, then you have a campaign in which people will be fully engaged. They’re going to discount a lot of the attacks.”
Caddell concluded by striving to make one thing clear to the Breitbart News Daily audience: “If it weren’t Trump, if Trump were somebody else, the nicest person in the world or whatever, they would be doing the same thing to that person, because that person represents a threat to their power, and their prestige, and their positions. And they will try to hold on to those at all costs. That’s why you can’t just get fooled by the way they try to turn the microscope up.”
Pat Caddell is a regular on Fox News’ “Political Insiders,” Sunday nights at 7:30 PM Eastern.
Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.