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Democratic Consultant Sees Little Chance For 1988 Success

March 20, 1987

ATLANTA (AP) _ The Democratic Party no longer claims the support of a majority of American voters and can recapture the White House only through a ″minor political earthquake,″ says political consultant Patrick Caddell.

″The unpleasant truth is ... the party has never been weaker in our lifetime and the array of obstacles and trends more alarming,″ Caddell said in a report to be presented Friday to party fund-raisers in Washington.

Details of the paper were reported in Thursday’s editions of The Atlanta Journal.

″As Democrats, we have been victims of self-delusion - the delusion that ours is still the nation’s majority party, that a generation of national defeats can be explained by unique defects of candidate, circumstance, tactics or calculation and that victory is only a quick fix away,″ his report said.

The Iran-Contra affair only ″opens the door″ for a Democratic victory in 1988, said Caddell, the pollster who helped plot Jimmy Carter’s winning strategy in 1976.

Caddell said a Democratic candidate must be strong in the South, but ″a candidacy that is primarily Southern in appeal will not be sufficient.″

In addition to appealing to Eastern voters, the Democratic nominee must break Republican strongholds in either the Midwest or West, he said.

Twenty-three states with 202 of the 270 electoral votes needed for election have voted Republican for the last five presidential elections, Caddell said.

Republicans have won another 13 states, with 152 electoral votes, in four of the elections.

″The Democrats, to be blunt, have no base,″ he said.

″The Electoral College obstacle for the Democrats is nothing less than an electoral Matterhorn,″ Caddell said.

His report advises the party to look for a nominee who follows a campaign modeled on John F. Kennedy’s successful 1960 race.

Kennedy’s ″message was national, a general election appeal from day one. ... Most critically, Kennedy sewed up the nomination without tearing apart the party,″ he said.

Caddell, whose polls predicted Carter’s 1976 victory and 1980 defeat, is a Washington-based business consultant who plans to work for Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., who has set up a campaign committee for the party’s 1988 nomination.

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