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October 27, 2004

Pat Caddell: Undecideds Go For the Incumbent

Pardon me if I keep bringing this up, but I had long heard that undecideds always break for the challenger, until Howard Dean's former campaign manager called that complete bunk during the conventions. So I'm interested to know if it's true; obviously, it's a crucial bit of information for the upcoming election, which will almost certainly be pretty close (if not razor-close).

This site transcribes also Pat Caddell saying the bromide is pure crap:

CADDELL: ... One of the [erroneous] things by the way I'll point out to you, having just listened to you and the Speaker, is that no, the undecideds always break to the incumbent at the end of a Presidential campaign.

CAVUTO: Really?

CADDELL: That is the greatest misnomer I've ever heard, because nobody studies the history of this. Undecided voters, by the middle of October, have not decided to vote for the challenger, they go for the safe choice, the person they have. That is what was moving Carter--

CAVUTO: What does that mean, Pat, go for the safe choice, because--

CADDELL: In other words, if a challenger cannot convince them, it's what I used to call the button problem, it's the war problem. If you're not going to vote for, unless you convince yourself that the challenger will do a better job in protecting the country, or handling particularly foreign policy than will be the incumbent or the incumbent party, then if you haven't made that decision, you stay with what's safe, you stay with what you know, that you're comfortable with. And that's been working for Bush I think coming all along, and it's part of the whole--

CAVUTO: Well why didn't it work for Jimmy Carter, Pat?

CADDELL: It did. It did.

Caddell goes on to explain that undecideds were breaking for Carter in late October 1980, but that a tactical error by Carter ruined all that. But you'll have to click on the link for the end of the story.

Thanks to Kausfiles.

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posted by Ace at 02:38 AM

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