Pat Caddell: 2016 Election About Insurgency, Not Ideology

Scott Olson/Getty Images
Scott Olson/Getty Images

“The election is not about ideology, not about issues, it’s about insurgency,” noted Democrat pollster Pat Caddell told Breitbart News Network editor-in-chief Alexander Marlow.

Appearing on the Sunday edition of Breitbart’s radio show on Sirius XM 125 the Patriot Channel, Caddell gave his take on the state of the Presidential race.

With voting set to begin with the Iowa caucuses next week, Caddell’s take is a must-listen for those closely following the nomination contest in both parties. A veteran of Presidential campaigns stretching over four decades, Caddell has had a front-row seat at many political defining moments in recent history.

For Caddell, the 2016 election is about voters revolting against Washington and the political classes that have dominated government and policy in recent years. “The system is on the verge of coming apart,” Caddell noted. “The politicians in Washington aren’t going to be able to put the genie back in the bottle.”

Most Republican campaigns have been left flat-footed in response, according to Caddell. He places the blame squarely on Republican party consultants, coming out of DC and the Republican National Committee, misunderstanding the mood of voters.

“They have less feel for the electorate than the man in the moon,” Caddell observed.

Caddell noted that the only two Republican candidates who have not hired or surrounded themselves with national Republican consultants are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Scott Walker, he said, surrounded himself with consultants out of Washington and out of the RNC and they immediately destroyed his candidacy.

The remaining candidates, he said, have listened to their consultants and have relied on out-dated messaging and strategies and have spent millions of dollars to no appreciable effect.

“Mike Murphy has spent millions taking Jeb Bush from 17 percent [in the polls] to 4 percent,” Caddell said.

The same sclerosis is plaguing Marco Rubio’s campaign, according to Caddell. Although Rubio has done very well in the debates, Caddell said his campaign “doesn’t move.” He attributes this to the fact that Rubio’s campaign is “run by the Romney people.”

Rubio is “unwilling to run as an outsider”, Caddell observed. Rubio’s campaign seems to be focused on presenting the Florida Senator as the most conservative member of the political establishment. If, as Caddell thinks, the election is about an insurgency rather than ideology, Rubio’s strategy is doubly wrong.

Caddell also said that he was “surprised [Rubio] hasn’t used electability” as a cornerstone of his campaign. More than half of Republican voters are angry at their political leadership, Caddell noted, but they also want to win in November.

The growing animosity between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and the very negative tone of their campaigns against each other, does provide an opening for a third candidate to surprise in Iowa or New Hampshire, Caddell said.

It is unclear who that could be though, since the other candidates seem to be running to coming in third or fourth as their focus. “When you run for President,” Caddell said, “you have to run to win, not finish in a certain spot.”

Although Trump and Cruz are dominating Republican polling, he sees possible dangers for both campaigns. Caddell believes Cruz is making a mistake running more as a conservative ideologue than an insurgent outsider. He believes Cruz is tied to a political “myth” that the Reagan landslide victory in 1980 was a conservative wave election. Caddell believes that election was more of a revolt by voters against a terrible economy and the hostage situation in Iran than an embrace of conservative ideology.

The danger for Trump is more subtle. The establishment’s hatred of Cruz and the recognition that Trump is at heart a deal-maker, have caused many old Republican establishment hands to embrace Trump recently.

Last week, Bob Dole said he would prefer Trump over Cruz for the nomination. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who is the longest serving Governor in the country and has never been involved publicly in the Iowa Presidential caucuses, came out strongly last week against Cruz, specifically over the candidate’s opposition to ethanol and wind power mandates and subsidies.

Caddell said Branstad’s comments against Cruz were a little disingenuous, since the Governor’s son works for the ethanol lobby in the state.

Trump, Caddell said, has been a little to quick to welcome the outreach from the political establishment.

Caddell said the Iowa caucuses, which take place February 1, will be decided by turnout. In the last two elections, Caddell said, Republican turnout in the caucuses has been around 125,000 voters. Caddell said Trump and Cruz are essentially tied among voters who have caucused in the past. If turnout goes up appreciably, though, Caddell believes Trump could win.

Turnout is also a factor in the Democrat race, Caddell said. Traditionally, around 130,000 Democrats have turned out for the caucuses. If that number gets closer to or about 200,000, like it did for Obama in 2008, then Sanders is likely to win.

Caddell noted that Sanders’ appeal to young voters is enormous. He said among voters under 30, Sanders is beating Clinton by something close to a  80-10 margin. The campaign so far has shown that Clinton “will lie about anything,” Caddell said. “It is wearing thin.”

Caddell thinks Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren may have “missed her moment” by declining to run. He thinks Sanders’ great advantage right now is his “authenticity.” Sanders is also helped by the fact that young voters “don’t know what socialism is,” Caddell said. “And they won’t,” he added, “until he’s the nominee.”

Sanders is resonating because he’s talking about the political, and financial, system being rigged. Trump resonates because he says this same system is broken or incompetent.  “Trump and Sanders are drinking from different ends of the same trough,” Caddell said.

Revolts aren’t always pretty, but they are the lifeblood of a Republic. Listen to the interview:


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