SCHOEN AND CADDELL ARE AT IT AGAIN…. Doug Schoen and Patrick Caddell, Democratic pollsters who worked with Presidents Clinton and Carter, have been arguing for quite a while that they think the party is pursuing the wrong course. Perhaps most famously, the two insisted in mid-March that Democrats would be far better off with the electorate if the party failed to pass health care reform.
Fortunately, Democratic policymakers ignored Schoen’s and Caddell’s advice. They’re back today, however, with related suggestions that they believe will prevent “a November bloodbath.”
The pollsters lean on some Rasmussen data — never a sound approach — to insist that Dems are facing a “backlash” in response to the breakthrough victory on health care. They also characterize independents as a single, self-contained group, which as we know, is folly.
In fairness, Schoen and Caddell characterize Democrats as facing a very challenging electoral environment, an observation that’s difficult to ignore. But the two really run into trouble when they explain what they’d like to see Dems do next.
To turn a corner, Democrats need to start embracing an agenda that speaks to the broad concerns of the American electorate. It should be somewhat familiar: It is the agenda that is driving the Tea Party movement and one that has the capacity to motivate a broadly based segment of the electorate.
To be sure, great efforts have been made recently to demonize the Tea Party movement. But polling suggests that the Tea Party movement has not been diminished but, in fact, has grown stronger.
And at this point, Schoen and Caddell go back to embracing cherry-picked data (again, from Rasmussen) that characterizes right-wing Tea Partiers as mainstream — while a more serious look at the data shows otherwise. The pollsters argue that nearly half of the far-right “movement” consists of “non-Republicans” the day after an independent national poll found that Tea Party activists “usually or almost always vote Republican.”
Schoen and Caddell also insist, “[T]he Tea Party movement to become as potent a force as any U.S. political party.” Nonsense. A significant percentage of the American mainstream doesn’t know what the Tea Party “movement” is or what it stands for; those who know about it often don’t like it; and a whopping 4% of the public has “given money or attended a Tea Party event, or both.”
Their odd op-ed goes on to say that President Obama and congressional Democrats appear to care too much about unions, when they should really be working on an agenda focused on “reducing the debt, with an emphasis on tax cuts.”
And to think Doug Schoen and Patrick Caddell have lost some of their influence in the Democratic mainstream. I can’t imagine how that happened.
To put it mildly, the piece is unpersuasive. As the pollsters see it, while Republicans work to make right-wing Tea Party activists happy, Democrats will survive the midterms if they do exactly the same thing. Democrats may have won in a national landslide in 2008, but to stay in power they should appeal to those voters who already loathe and voted against them.
A lot of adjectives come to mind reading Schoen’s and Caddell’s advice, but “wise” isn’t one of them.