Draft Hillary? The Political Hackery Of Pat Caddell & Doug Schoen

"Democratic" Pollsters Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen are out with another wacky Op-Ed.

Once again, Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen, who seem to do nothing else these days except write Op-Eds offering advice to Democrats that they’re never going to follow and probably would be foolish if they did, are out with another 2012 political suggestion to “save” the Democratic Party. This time, they’re telling us that Democrats, faced as they are with a primary with only one name on the ballot, should write-in Hillary Clinton:

We argued in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece that President Barack Obama should stand down and let Secretary of State Hillary Clinton run as the Democratic presidential nominee in 2012.

We are now calling on Democratic voters nationally — particularly in New Hampshire — to organize a write-in campaign for Clinton. This is something that New Hampshire voters have a long history of doing.

In other words, our last crazy Op-Ed got laughed out of the room, so we’re back a month later and we’ve come up with an even wackier idea.

In all honesty, none of this is new for Caddell & Schoen. Not only was there the WSJ Op-Ed last month, which James Joyner deftly fisked here at OTB the day it was published, but they’ve also written similar pieces, making nearly the same “Hillary must replace Obama for the Democratic Party (and/or the Republic), for more than a year now. Almost exactly one year  before the Journal piece, they argued that President Obama should announce that he’s not running for re-election in a Washington Post Op-Ed (James also subjected that argument to much-deserved mocking). Caddell and Schoen have also engaged in mindless speculation regarding the changes for a third-party candidate to play a major role in the 2012 elections. So, all of this is old hat for these two, and their argument makes as little sense now as it has in the past.

Their argument is a familiar one. The nation is in crisis. The President’s leadership is no longer trusted. A savior is needed. And, once again, that savior is Hillary Clinton. Pay no attention to the fact that she has said repeatedly she has absolutely no interest in running for President ever again, never mind in 2012, or that the polls show no real evidence that she’d have a chance against the President in a Democratic primary. For Caddell & Schoen, the Clinton v. Obama scenario seems to be the only thing they see when they look in their respective crystal balls. Considering Schoen’s involvement in Clinton’s 2008 campaign, this isn’t much of a surprise. As for Caddell, after helping to guide Jimmy Carter to a disastrous loss in 1980, he worked on such successful endeavors as the 1984 Gary Hart campaign, the 1988 Joe Biden campaign, and the 1992 Jerry Brown campaign. Given their resumes, one wonders why anyone would even bother taking advice from them. And yet, they offer it.

For example, consider this:

First, and most important, ordinary Democrats and independents in New Hampshire should mobilize behind a grass-roots effort to write in Clinton’s name during the Jan. 10 Democratic primary.

Second, a committed group of Democrats with resources and stature needs to help facilitate an authentic citizens’ movement — independent of party structure, Clinton and organized interests — to support a massive New Hampshire write-in campaign and put this before a deeply disaffected electorate.

There is already an online petition to draft Clinton, created by Democrats.

“We the undersigned Democrats want a new Democratic nominee for president who can win in 2012. We are convinced that the only person with the national stature, experience … who can win in the general election in 2012 is Hillary Rodham Clinton. We are fully prepared to take matters in to our own hands and launch our own massive write-in campaign,” it reads.

Even if one does not agree with their every argument, we urge everyone who shares our beliefs go to that website now — and to tell their friends to go to there and sign it.

Yes, because everyone knows that online petitions are the best measure of the pulse of the American public in general, and Democratic voters in particular. Never mind that President Obama’s approval rating among Democrats remains exceedingly high. Never mind that the most solidly Democratic demographic group in the country, African-Americans, would likely react incredibly negatively toward any effort to unseat the first African-American President from within the Democratic Party. Never mind that the idea of a write-in campaign challenging an incumbent President, even one suffering the effects of a struggling economy, is exceedingly silly. We’ll just sign on an online petition for Hillary, right after signing the one to eliminate the year 2007 from history, and everything will be just fine.

Caddell and Schoen have an answer for those who would point out that their scenario is utter nonsense, it’s just not a very good one:

[The New Hampshire] primary — traditionally well before other primaries — allows independents to cast ballots for either Democrats or Republicans, unlike most other “closed primaries,” in which only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote on their respective parties’ ballots. It’s justly famous for write-in candidates, who often had substantial success.

In 1964, write-in candidate Henry Cabot Lodge had an upset victory over GOP front-runners Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller. In 1968, incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson was not on the ballot, but as a write-in, he received nearly 50 percent of all Democratic votes.

A write-in candidacy in 2012 can send a message that the Democratic Party must stand for something more than Obama’s reelection at all costs.

We are not asking the president or the secretary of state to take action. We ask the people of the United States, Democrats and, especially, New Hampshire voters to exercise their right to be heard by writing Clinton’s name on the primary ballot.

With respect to the 1964 Republican primary, it didn’t hurt that Lodge was a scion of Massachusetts politics and probably would’ve won New Hampshire had he gotten on the ballot officially. Moreover, by the time the limited primaries of the day were done, during which Lodge actually dropped out of active campaigning, he had come in 4th in the popular vote and ended up with only 2 delegates at the Republican National Convention. Caddell and Schoen also fail to mention that, despite the “nearly 50%” of the votes that LBJ received that year, the incumbent President ended up dropping out of the 1968 race just two weeks  later thanks to the surprisingly strong showing of Eugene McCarthy. In fact, the history of the campaign seems to indicate that Johnson’s odd decision not to have his name placed on the New Hampshire ballot was one of the primary factors that gave McCarthy the opening he needed to pull off his surprise showing. Arguably, if Johnson had actually put his name on the ballot in New Hampshire that year, history would have turned out very differently. The important point, though, is that in neither of the examples that Caddell and Schoen cite did the write-in candidate end up going on to win the nomination. The idea that things would be any different this time around is sheer fantasy.

This is unlikely to be the last time we hear from these two political hacks. This Op-Ed alone will probably get them plenty of airtime this week on Fox News Channel and elsewhere, especially considering the fact that we’re entering a slow news week. A few months from now, they’ll probably come out with another Op-Ed arguing that Democratic Superdelegates should do what they can to arrange a brokered convention in Charlotte. After that, we’ll have the detailed analysis explaining why Obama absolutely must dump Joe Biden from the ticket in favor of Hillary Clinton (perhaps they’ll even suggest that Obama should promise to immediately resign after being sworn in for his Second Term so that Hillary could become President). And I’m sure there are a few even crazier ideas that they’ll come up with over the next year.

It must be nice work. Create political fantasy, call it political analysis, and get paid for it. Why anyone continues to take it seriously, though, is beyond me.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. mattb says:

    I think they are competing with Dick Morris for the “Most Wrong Ever And Still Professional Employed” Pundit awards.

  2. Hey Norm says:

    What a waste of bandwidth…Two Fox News Democrats who hate Obama only slightly less than Doug.

  3. Moosebreath says:

    “Given their resumes, one wonders why anyone would even bother taking advice from them.”

    The better question is why anyone would give them op-ed space or prominent bandwidth to spout their advice.

  4. Brett says:

    They probably give them space because they’re saying something different from everyone else, even if it’s incredibly stupid. It’s a breath of fresh air, even if said “fresh” air is heavily polluted with nonsense.

  5. Peter says:

    Pat what? & Doug who?

  6. laura says:

    They’re right, they’re just telling what most of the americans are : HILLARY 2012! Obama is set to lose the White House, he’s an empty suit who has no future there.If the dems want to win they must draft the best leader ever in the Dem Party. HILLARY!

  7. Hey Norm says:

    “…he’s an empty suit…”

    I wonder if OBL. Al-Awlaki, and Ghaddaffi all think he’s an empty suit?
    Funny that the empty suit passed health care reform when democratic and republican presidents had tried and failed for 5 decades.
    Maybe that word…empty…doesn’t mean what you think it means.

  8. de stijl says:


    You got snookered by Schoen on October 18th when he was bashing OWS with survey “results” that Schoen lied about.

    But that was in your “I hate drum circles” wheelhouse so you ate it up hook, line, and sinker.

  9. Kit Smith says:

    @Brett: I think it’s also important to look at who is publishing this claptrap. Money quote comes from the first sentence of the Politico piece: “We argued in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece…”

    Once you realize the audience you were writing for, it becomes apparent that these guys are writing for people who are immersed with information with a strong right-ward political bent. As a “Democrat,” how do you write for this kind of an audience? By sowing division amongst the ranks you supposedly come from, a la Zell Miller at the GOP convention in 2004. I’ll bet you the people who got past the fact that somehow Democrats had made it onto the WSJ op-ed page without having an aneurysm were generally delighted by what they read – the GOP field is atrociously bad this year, but how better to beat them than to have Democrats encouraging their bloc to throw away the advantages they would have in the general election for some pie in the sky pipe dream.

  10. anjin-san says:

    he’s an empty suit

    Well, no. You, on the other hand, are a walking cliche….