The Tennessee Star Report: Neil McCabe on the Death of Legendary Pollster Patrick Cadell


On Tuesday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Gill and Leahy talked to One America News Networks Neil McCabe about the recent and unexpected death of good friend and legendary pollster Pat Cadell.

Cadell passed away from a stroke at the age of sixty eight in Charleston, South Carolina. He was known as the man who helped Jimmy Carter to win the Presidency and is survived by his daughter, Heidi Caddell Eichelberger, brother, Daniel, sister, Patricia Roberts, and three grandchildren.

Gill: You know The Tennessee Star lost a friend that has been a close relation with Michael Patrick Leahy and the show. Came on the show a couple of times. Pat Cadell one of the ultimate pollsters. A guy who got Trump before most people got Trump. And Neil McCabe from One America News is on with us today to talk a little about Pat Cadell today. Neil McCabe with us in this segment today to talk a little about our friend Pat Cadell. Hey Neil good morning.

McCabe: Hey good morning guys. Good to be with you but obviously the news of Pat Caddells’ passing really, it sort of blind sided me.

Leahy: Yeah, it was very sad. He was only sixty eight years old. He was a nineteen seventy two graduate of Harvard and just coming out at the age of twenty one from Harvard. He was George McGovern’s pollster in nineteen seventy six. He was Jimmy Carter’s pollster and really he’s was the guy who gave Carter the strategy to win the presidency. He subsequently worked for Carter in eighty and Gary Hart in eighty four, Jerry Brown in ninety two. He became disaffected from the Democratic party and the party left him, I think as Ronald Reagan has said. He became really early on a Breitbart contributor.

I first wrote about him in 2013 when he just weighed into the Republican consultant class.

He saw the rise of Donald Trump. And you and I worked with him very closely at Breitbart,  where I’m still the polling editor and you were at the time a the columnist who wrote about our polls. He would write the questions for about fifty polls that we did between June of 2016 and November of 2016.  I would work with him on setting the polls up and then the polling company that did the polling, he would do the analysis and you would write the stories up. It was fascinating wasn’t it working with Pat?

McCabe reflected on the Breitbart, battleground state and national state Gravis polls from 2016 and how he feels that that type of conservative polling wouldn’t occur again for a long time.

He reminisced about writing up Trump wins today on Curt Schilling’s show on election day 2016 and how he stated, “American’s want their country back.”

Leahy interjected that this was the time when polls said Hillary Clinton would win by ninety five percent.  The men chuckled about how they remembered Caddell and his love of talking on the phone and how he was never in doubt and although a very nice guy, did not “suffer fools gladly.”

McCabe reflected that Caddell would create polling questions that he could get the truth out of people because he knew that people were lying and in doing so created a type of polling that instituted “attitudinal questions.”

Gill: You know one of things, Neil, that he was able to do, and again he had the numbers and asked the right questions which most pollsters I think miss. You talk about the attitudinal questions. I know one of the tricks that are increasingly are being used is not ask people what do you think about this issue or how do you stand on this issue but how do your neighbors stand. Because you know, people are going to say, “Well, I’m not a racist, or I’m not pro-Trump but my neighbors”… And you can maybe get a little bit of a sense of their real feelings and real sentiment that way. But he also, putting aside the data, my sense is he had an instinctive understanding of politics that let him see the Trump phenomenon before most people saw it.

McCabe: Oh yeah, I mean he understood Trump’s relationship with the voters in a way that, you know, I didn’t. You know I went to what, fifteen or twenty Trump rallies. I mean I interviewed the guy. I mean I thought I was in tune on this thing, you know I’d been following politics since I was a kid.

And you know, the night that the Access Hollywood tape broke I called him at around eleven o’clock at night and I said, “Pat this is bad.”

And he laughed at me. He said “Oh, you just found out the guys a cad?” He said, (Leahy laughs) Trump’s numbers, in a week Trump’s numbers are going to be exactly where they were before this news and they will continue to improve.” And you know he just understood. He also understood, remember the last poll we did Mike, Trump’s highly unfavorable was forty five percent, right, that’s going into the election that he wins. Pat would say all the time it’s like, “If Trump makes it Hillary versus Trump personality wise he’s going to lose. But if he goes above personality and focuses on the issues he wins.” And I think that’s why he won.

Leahy: Exactly right, exactly right. It’s sort of interesting. Pat had an understanding about polling. Neil, he would always say this, “It’s an art, not a science.” And you have to have an innate understanding of what people are thinking.  And his questions were designed to draw that out of what they were really thinking. And he was probably the best analyst of detailed poll numbers by demographic group etc. that ever existed in America.

McCabe and the duo concluded the segment by discussing the mention of Jerry Brown’s race in 1992 and how Caddell was the principal political strategist of Brown’s campaign. He asked, ” what other political guru had any other streaks as good as Pat Caddell has?”

Gill joined the conversation and brought up the new presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders and questioned McCabe on what his view was and his opinion of what he thought Sanders impact could be on the growing number of Democratic candidates.

“Time and the country does not stand still,” said McCabe.

He added that 2020 is going to be different than 2016 and how it would be difficult for Sanders to put the fire and formula together for a successful run.

“A hot candidate can’t catch it again,” concluded McCabe.

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Listen to the full segment here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.







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