Pat Caddell was coming out of the Fox News exit poll meeting.  Those polls showed Fox, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNBC, AP, Reuters, the NYTimes, Washington Post and most others exactly what they expected: they would be calling Hillary Clinton the winner of the election that night.

Pat called Bob Perkins and Scott Miller: “Don’t pay any attention to the exit polls.  They’re stilted, and, as always, just focused on the horse race.  When you look deeper, you see why this is breaking for Trump. It’s breaking just the way we thought it would.”

Yes, the horse race showed Hillary winning in the “swing” states.  But looking at the voters’ attitudes in depth showed something else important.  Voters’ attitudes were turning this into a referendum; the people versus the corrupt elites.  We’d seen this building in our “WeNeedSmith.com” polls over five years, the latest just a couple of weeks before the election.  Consider a few bullet points from that poll, showing the alienation, frustration and anger of an overwhelming number of all voters, of all parties, genders, demographics and belief systems: 

  • More than two thirds of voters (67.6%) said they believe America is on the wrong track.  62.9% believe the American way of life is changing for the worse, and 72.2% believe America is actually in decline.
  • 83.7% believe that ordinary people are losing the power to influence our Government, and 80.4% believe people with money and position play by different rules than the rest of us.
  • 87.3% of American voters feel politicians and other elites like lobbyists, big business, big banks, big unions and big media rig the system to protect their own power and prestige. 
  • 53.2% said they want big change in our government and economy.  And the “old way” versus “radical change” loses by 77.8% to 18.7%. 

These attitudes were held even more strongly among what we called the “double negatives:” voters who said they didn’t like either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, but would still likely vote. Looking closely you could see how they would decide on Election Day: by an almost two-to-one margin they said, “if Hillary wins, the elites win;” and by almost the same margin they said, “if Donald Trump wins, the elites lose.”

Looking closely is not what the big media or most campaign consultants were doing.  They were looking at the horse race numbers, fielding polls to confirm their assumptions and biases and to protect their business.  As it turns out, the polls were almost all irrelevant and wrong.    

The polls, Big Data, the Ground Game and the ads and ads and ads and ads … didn’t work in this election.  Hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of it all didn’t work. 

One reason is that polling for professional politicians and the activist media has evolved over the past few election cycles not so much to learn from the people as to find out how best to market to (make that, “manipulate”) the voters.  

The divisions we hear of among our citizens have been largely created and amplified by the political class to sharpen their campaigns, delight their funders and keep control of their system.  What you see throughout our polling is a broad electorate united in its desire for change and reform.  

Maybe that’s why the political ads were simply ignored. It was more of the same from past elections. From the time the Jeb Bush campaign began pouring millions into negative ads against Donald Trump, a steady march, then a parade and then a full stampede of negative ads crowded TV and the Web with little effect except to enrich the consultants who produced them.  

We’re not saying that TV ads can’t work, but the dominant form of political ads hasn’t worked (which hasn’t stopped them).  Telling people what to think doesn’t work.  Convincing them works.  Using other voters to get them into a conversation works. The American people, immersed in marketing all their lives, are sophisticated about its ways and means. They sense the difference between selling versus telling a compelling story.  And they are not idiots.  

We believe and the voters believe that we must recognize the need for a new class of leadership for American politics, business and civic life.  Voters and consumer both tell the incumbents: “We want change.  We want authenticity.  We want to be heard.”  

The next step in our work will include helping some political campaigns that emulate the “Smith” model (need a descriptor like- a model that elects representatives who really represent the people), and a project we call “Desperately Seeking Smith”, a quest to identify a new class of leadership for American politics, business and civic life.  They may be outsiders or insiders, but they’re out there; young, old, Independents, Democrats, Republicans and Unaffiliated, every race and belief system.  This is America, the land of possibility.

We want to find them, help them understand the perceptions and attitudes of the people they want to serve and support them as they begin to take the lead in a nation craving change.  

This Web site, the five years of seminal polling that has revealed the growing alienation and anger of American voters as the new insurgent force in American politics, and the reform spirit of “Candidate Smith” to fight corruption in our political system is the result of the generosity and powerful, fair-minded intellect of the late Lee Hanley.  We will miss him greatly, and we hope his indomitable belief in our country’s destiny will live on through our work. 

By Pat Caddell, Scott Miller and Bob Perkins

Over the past five years, Armada Publishing has conducted national polling of United States voters. We’ve seen the rising anger, frustration and alienation of the American people from what they see as the corrupt political elite in Washington.  Our latest poll, completed at the end of September shows those attitudes still rising.  In fact, they are off the charts.

This election is still turbulent and still undecided.  The only clarity is the overwhelming support for powerful leadership that will lead to radical political reform and an end to crony capitalism in Washington.

In fact, this new poll makes it clear just how volatile the final days of this campaign may be.  Just thirty days from November 8, and it’s possible to predict a landslide that goes either way.  It’s not just about those who declare themselves “undecided” to pollsters.  It’s about another 20+% who are still uncommitted; they don’t really like either candidate or they like both candidates, and are still likely to vote on November 8th.  

And our hypothetical “Candidate Smith” shows how to capture this uncommitted/undecided 30% of the electorate.  Neither Donald Trump, nor Hillary Clinton have won the “Smith” vote.  The winner of this segment will be the winner of the Presidential election.  Of that “uncommitted” 30% of American voters, six in ten are favorable to Candidate Smith and the reform platform that Smith would bring to Washington.  That platform is the foundation for victory in November.  

First, look at the numbers on alienation from and anger toward our government, the establishment and political/media elite.  As you read these numbers, remind yourself that this poll represents all voters, all party affiliation, all ages and every demographic.

• More than two thirds of voters (67.6%) believe America is on the wrong track.  62.9% believe the American way of life is changing for the worse, and 72.2% believe America is actually in decline.

• 83.7% believe that ordinary people are losing the power to influence our Government.

• 80.4% believe people with money and position play by different rules than the rest of us.  

• 80.7% say they believe we have a “two-track economy,” where ordinary people struggle and the elites get the spoils.  

• Do politicians even “care about people like me?”  The answer is a resounding “no!” according to 69% of voters.

• 87.3% of American voters feel politicians and other elites like lobbyists, big business, big banks, big unions and big media rig the system to protect their own power and prestige, 

• Both parties are seen as too beholden to special interests to help the middle class (75.5%).  And that bipartisan corruption is seen as the reason the middle class economy is stuck in neutral (84.6% agree).  

• 75.7%) believe the real struggle in this election is not between Democrats and Republicans, but between the political elites and mainstream Americans.  

• According to America’s voting citizens, the status quo must go.  53.2% say they want big change in our government and economy.  And the “old way” versus “radical change” loses by 77.8% to 18.7%. 

• 83.4% say the economic policies of both parties have failed the middle class.  75.5% say the two parties are too beholden to special interests to do what’s right for the American people.

In an election in which both major candidates are seen unfavorably by American voters, Candidate Smith – an outsider with no political experience and a platform of reform for Washington, DC -- is seen favorably by 75.7% of all voters.  Among those who are unfavorable to both candidates, Smith’s favorable rating is over 80%. 

• The Smith reform platform has overwhelming support.  73.5% agree we must “fix the broken political system first,” before we take on the other challenges facing our country

These voters who are unfavorable to Clinton and Trump, but favorable to Smith believe even more strongly than other voters that our country is on the wrong track, that we need change from President Obama’s policies and that the economic policies of both parties have failed.

In an environment of disappointment and dismay, the reform policies of Candidate Smith offer hope to American voters.  And they offer a path to victory for the candidate who can adopt and communicate them to the American people. In thirty days we’ll learn whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton has been able tap into the strength of Candidate Smith.

You can read the full polling results here.

In the 2014 elections, candidates for Congress signed a first of its kind pledge. Hear their stories:

The media are taking notice of our Promise to America:

That pragmatic pledge presses candidates and incumbents (there's still hope for some) to stop becoming lobbyists the moment they leave office (in the real world, no one loses his job one day and has a seven-figure job waiting for him the next), to pass budgets (come on, seriously, everyone has to work within a budget), to write every bill in plain English (none of the bureaucratic gibberish that no one understands) and to have it available online a week before signing.

Kerith Taylor, who is running in the 6th Congressional District north of here, signed on immediately. The Jefferson County native is as comfortable target-shooting as she is saying she would never vote for Nancy Pelosi.

Read the full article.

Reporter Salena Zito traveled to twelve states to talk to voters and met many Smiths:

The conclusion is simple but jarring: Many longtime Democrats and Republicans are shedding party loyalty because of disgust with Washington.

Their movement is populist in temperament but insulated from the usual co-opting by political organizations seeking to benefit from it.

You see, people are not simply tired of Washington; they are tired of political organizations, of the two-party system, of campaign messages designed to narrow the turnout of their opponents.

Even more, they are tired of being left behind.

Read the full article.

Americans are fed up with leadership in Washington not just because Congress is ineffective, but as this Rasmussen survey finds, because they believe Congress to be full of crooks:

Sixty-three percent (63%) of voters also still think most members of Congress are willing to sell their vote for either cash or a campaign contribution, and 59% think it’s likely their own representative already has. This includes 29% who say it’s Very Likely their local representative has sold his or her vote. This level of cynicism about their elected representatives hasn't changed in surveys since late 2012. 

Read more on Rasmussen's website.

We need new leadership to tackle the issues that continue to cripple our nation, not just politics as usual. Case in point:

The federal debt this year will be double what it was before the financial crisis, Congress’ official budget scorekeeper projected Wednesday morning.

The debt is on pace to reach 74 percent of the country’s economic output by the end of the year, double what it was in 2007 and the highest percentage since 1950, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Read the full article on the Washington Examiner's website.

Arthur Brooks took to the New York Times today to write what many mainstream Americans feel: Party politics is bad for the country and it's time for real leaders to step up and give us "the competition of ideas we deserve."

From his column:

More trait-trespassing politicians would give all citizens the competition of ideas we deserve. Because of the lack of overlapping values between the parties today, most people have effectively one choice when it comes time to vote. Often, we just hold our noses and pull the lever. That makes politics about as edifying as shopping at a Soviet-era supermarket. Wouldn’t we all like some choice?

Read the full article.

American Dissatisfaction With Everything Is Reaching Historic Levels

WASHINGTON -- People are mad as hell, and they're not going to take it anymore, an extensive new survey of public attitudes toward the government finds.

The study, conducted by EMC Research, relies on three in-depth surveys in late 2013, one by telephone and two on the Internet. When lined up with historical trends on dissatisfaction and alienation, it shows a public that has become increasingly distrustful of the government over the past several decades. Only the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks interrupted that trend, briefly rallying people around their leaders. Within just a few years, that feeling had faded, and faith in government and politicians returned to its steady decline....

While today's disaffection is partly due to the economy, Caddell argues that something deeper is going on. Two-thirds of the survey's respondents felt that they have no say in government, with 73 percent believing the government does not rule with the consent of the people...

"People like to say that the country is more divided than ever," Caddell said, "but in fact the country is united about one thing: that the political class does not represent them, that the system is rigged against them. There is a belief that the system is rigged, and that's what we need to understand."

Caddell and a team of allies are using the study as a springboard to launch We Need Smith, a populist version of the Americans Elect effort that flopped in its campaign to draw a corporate, centrist presidential candidate into the 2012 election with the promise of tens of millions of dollars in backing. Caddell argues that the Americans Elect approach was wildly out of touch and that popular disaffection with the two parties does not mean that voters crave a bland centrist. What they want, he thinks, is someone in the mold of the Jimmy Stewart character who challenged government corruption in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."


 

To read the full article on the Huffington Post's website, click here.

So much for hope and change: Most Americans don't believe government can do anything for them - or is likely to even try

Americans are becoming increasingly alienated from the political system with most believing that the government can't do anything to improve their lives, a new study has revealed...two-thirds said they believe that they have no say in what happens in government with 73 per cent of those who responded saying they do not believe the government rules with the consent of the people...

The new survey asked those taking part about their levels of trust in the government and how optimistic they were about the future of America. 

However, 69 per cent of respondents believed the country is on the 'wrong track' and remain negative about the direction of the country.

In addition 71 per cent also responded saying that they believe future generations will not have a better standard of life than current Americans. 

And more worryingly the survey showed that 84 per cent of people felt alienated from the political system. 

More than 40 per cent of respondents also described themselves as sad about the state of America's political system and economy with a further 65 per cent believing that politicians are now lying more and undermining democracy.

Meanwhile 59 per cent say that America would be better off all together if all elected officials in Washington were removed in favour of ordinary citizens. 

This is supported by 92 per cent of people saying they prefer ordinary citizens rather than hand-picked elites running for office. 

The poll has been commissioned by Patrick Caddell, who with a team has launched the website We Need Smith, which describes itself as a new movement to support ordinary citizens to take on America's political elites.


 

To read the full article on The Daily Mail's website, click here.

July 4, 1776: In the shadow of the hangman’s noose the signers of the Declaration of Independence ended their document that would change the world with these words – “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our Sacred Honor.”  

July 4, 2014: In a different but no less significant crisis, the American people are being summoned to reclaim that first Revolution.  

The challenge of this moment is to redeem the promise of America, to revitalize the American Dream and to restore the People’s rightful place as the sovereign rulers of America.  Let’s be blunt: America is in trouble. We are in danger of losing the American dream.  That’s not just the opinion of the three of us. It’s the conviction of most Americans.  

Over the past six months, we have conducted an intense national research project among likely voters of all parties, and we are releasing the results now, for Independence Day, 2014.

The battle lines of the new political order are emerging.  When presented with the proposition that “the real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans but mainstream America and the ruling political elites,” over 66% of voters agree.

What we’ve found is that the old “conservative vs. liberal” political discussion is being tuned out by the vast majority of voters.  These voters aren’t liberal or conservative. They are unified in frustration with the corruption of the political ruling class: incumbent politicians, lobbyists, the elite media, big business, big banks, big unions, and big special interests

American voters strongly believe that corruption and crony capitalism are among the most important issues facing our nation—almost equal to jobs and the economy. Political alienation has existed for decades, but it now envelops over three-fifths of all voters.  

These are the numbers that precede a political upheaval.  

This is not a Democratic movement or a Republican movement. It is an effort to give voice to the vast majority of Americans who are ready to rumble and rebel:

 Eighty-six percent of all voters believe political leaders are more interested in protecting their power than in doing what’s right for the American people.

 Eighty-three percent believe the country is run by an alliance of incumbent politicians, media pundits, lobbyists, and other interests for their own gain.

 Further, 79% believe that powerful interests from Wall Street banks to corporations, unions, and PACs use campaign and lobbying money to rig the system to serve themselves and that they loot the national treasury at the expense of every American.

And what do they want to do about this?

 Despite the importance of traditional issues like an anemic economy, poor job growth, a failed education system, and a tax system that works for no one, 74% of all voters recognize this simple reality: it is necessary to fix our broken political system first, before anything can be done to solve other important political issues.  

 Ninety-two percent say we must recruit and support for public office more ordinary citizens and fewer professional politicians.  Not surprising when you consider that 81% believe both political parties do what’s in it for them rather than fix our nation’s problems.  The voters understand that what needs fixing is the political class.

All of this is occurring in a context in which voters believe that the American dream is fading, and in which two-thirds believe their children will not have a future better than our present.

Our movement, “WeNeedSmith.com,” is named after the hypothetical “Candidate Smith” we created to stand against status quo political corruption and stand for a reform-first platform.  Of course, we chose “Candidate Smith” in recognition of the hero, Thomas Jefferson Smith, of Frank Capra’s classic film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

The WeNeedSmith.com Web site we are launching today is a gathering place for Americans who desperately want to reclaim their right to be the true rulers of American government: people who are willing to act as citizens willing to commit to a reform platform and who are willing to take on the corrupt and self-serving political class.  

In our research we presented this position:

 “Candidate Smith says our broken political system is failing all of us. Special interests and lobbyists control the politicians and the politicians keep getting elected because they divide us against each other and make single issue promises to buy our support.  We need new leaders from mainstream America . . . who will take on the political elites and special interests and put the American people in charge again.”  

After delivering this description, we presented Smith’s non-partisan “reform first” and “issue principles” platform. The very voters who have been divided and distracted for years by single-issue politics voted for the Smith comprehensive reform program with near unanimity.  Despite all the conventional wisdom about how hopelessly divided America is, the larger truth is that an overwhelming majority of Americans unify around alienation, the issue platform of Smith and the “reform first” package.  This is a movement that unites rather than divides.  

In our massive research project, upon hearing the Smith platform, the favorability of Candidate Smith skyrocketed, as did Smith’s vote support at every level.  While the political elites have purposely divided our nation, Smith unites, winning with men and women, every age group, every education and income demographic, and wins whether running as a Democrat, Independent, or Republican.  A large majority of voters endorsed the notion that the real ideology of this country is “American common sense.”  

 Seventy-five percent or more say they would support this candidate for Congress; and two-thirds or more say they would support this candidate for president.  

 Stunningly, in a head-to-head-to-head contest with Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie, Smith won by 55% to 24% to 12%.  Of course, the voters don’t know the candidate as a personality, but within the context of alienation and contempt the Smith platform becomes enormously compelling to them.

Frankly, in over forty years of public opinion research, we have never seen results so startling, so consistent at such stratospheric levels of agreement.  Our polling is prima facie evidence of a nation in revolt against a corrupt system, even as it is now unrecognized or unacknowledged by the political class.  By every measure we have of alienation, of optimism vs. pessimism, and of the mainstream vs. the political class, our poll data reflects intense disdain for and anger toward the political order in America: Smith is coming, one way or the other.

The disaffection of American voters with the status quo in Washington is not ideological, but structural.  Clearly, the public is not looking to merely tinker with the political process, or to simply to swing from the current crop of Democrats to the current crop of Republicans. The difference between today’s political structure and the aspirations of Americans is a vision of alternate universes. One is the status quo of the political, media, and establishment elite. The other universe is that of the American people, who demand transformation of the nation’s political life, a radical resetting of values to bring about a resurgence of their own sovereignty and of America itself.

That’s why we have created the “We Need Smith” movement and launched the WeNeedSmith.com website.  Its most important communication to American citizens fed up with Washington’s endemic corruption is, “You are not alone.”  It provides millions of Americans a way to light a prairie fire at the grass roots that will sweep across our country and over Washington.

Please visit this site, and, if you agree with these simple principles of change, join with us.  This may be the beginning of something truly powerful.  Will it ignite the next American Revolution? We truly hope so.

The Authors 

Patrick Caddell has served as pollster and strategist in numerous Democratic presidential campaigns. Bob Perkins has held senior positions in the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee.  Scott Miller, founder of Sawyer/Miller Group and a marketing and communications consultant, has worked in both Republican and Democratic national campaigns. 

Dramatic research reveals that a majority of voters are calling for a new political direction: We Need Smith

NEW YORK, NY (July 2, 2014) – A new movement, “We Need Smith” has been announced to stand against the status quo political corruption and to stand for a common sense reform-first platform. This Independence Day will mark the beginning of a challenge to redeem the promise of America, to revitalize the American Dream and to restore the People’s rightful place as the sovereign rulers of America.

Over the past six months, Armada Publishing, a consortium effort led by political and marketing veterans Patrick Caddell, Bob Perkins and Scott Miller, conducted an intense national research project among likely voters of all parties. While, the conventional wisdom of most pollsters and pundits is that our country is hopelessly divided ideologically, the study found the one issue that unites all voters: Democrats, Republicans and Independents, men and women, young and old, Black, White, Hispanic or Asian. Never before have 74% of voters agreed on one point: Before we can take on any other challenge our nation faces, we must fix our corrupt political system and restore the people’s rightful place as the sovereign rulers of America.

The reason they feel so strongly is that 89% of those surveyed felt that political leaders on both sides fight to protect their own power and privilege at the expense of the nation’s well being.  

“In over forty years of studying public opinion research, we have never seen results so startling or so consistent at such stratospheric levels of agreement,” adds Pat Caddell, long-time Democratic political pollster and regular Fox News Contributor. “We recognized this hunger for real change needed a way to express itself, which is how the ‘We Need Smith’ movement was born.”

We Need Smith follows the direction of this unprecedented anger and alienation. A hypothetical candidate, Candidate Smith, was created to take on entrenched Washington elites and to drive a platform of fundamental reform. The study reveals voters uniting at historic levels in support for this candidate as a Senator or as President, no matter what party Smith represents. In a head-to-head-to-head election against Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie, Smith wins in a landslide; getting more votes than Clinton and Christie combined.

• Seventy-five percent or more say they would support this candidate for Congress; and two-thirds or more say they would support this candidate for president.

 In a contest with Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie, Smith won by 55% to 24% and 12%. The voters don’t know the candidate as a personality, but within the context of alienation and contempt, the Smith platform becomes enormously compelling to them.

Despite the importance of traditional issues like an anemic economy, poor job growth, a failed educational system, and a tax system that works for no one, the study shows that it is time to fix the political class. Eighty-three percent of voters believe that our country is now run by an alliance of incumbent politicians, lobbyists, the elite media, big banks, big business, big unions and other special interests for their own gain at the expense of the American people.

"The real struggle for America is not between Democrats and Republicans or liberals and conservatives, but between mainstream America and the ruling political elites," comments Bob Perkins, Former Finance Director of the Republic National Committee and long time marketing and communications executive. “Over 80% of voters believe the ruling political class, both Democrat and Republican, are allowing powerful interests to manipulate the system and loot the treasury for themselves at the expense of every other American.”

“We found that 92% of all voters believe America needs more candidates for office who are ordinary citizens rather than professional politicians,” explains Scott Miller, founder of the Sawyer/Miller group. “Voters want elected officials whose ideology is good old fashioned American common sense.” To capture this sentiment of common sense and honesty, We Need Smith is named after the famous reform-first candidate, Thomas Jefferson Smith, who fought political corruption in Frank Capra’s classic movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

We Need Smith, found at WeNeedSmith.com, is a gathering place for Americans who desperately want to reclaim their rights as the true rulers of the American government and for citizens committed to a reform platform and are willing to take on the system. The site will also mobilize Americans to demand that political candidates running for office sign a pledge of specific reforms for government in Washington, D.C.  

“While the political elites have purposely divided our nation, the Fourth of July reminds us how we united to seize our own future from the British,” expresses Perkins. “Similarly, We Need Smith aims to unite, showing Americans that they aren’t alone in their frustrations.  No single issue has united all voters like this reform platform.”

“The question is not only what could Candidate Smith do, but what are we all prepared to do together? None of this can get fixed without each and every one of us taking responsibility to do our part,” stresses Caddell. “Will this movement and these findings ignite the next American Revolution? We truly hope so.”

About Armada Publishing

Patrick Caddell, Scott Miller and Bob Perkins are principals of Armada Publishing, a New York-based consulting and research consortium.  Caddell has served as pollster and strategist in numerous Democratic presidential campaigns.  Miller has extensive political experience in both Democratic and Republican campaigns.  Perkins has held senior positions in the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee.  

10 KEY FINDINGS

1. 75 % agree that, “The U.S. has a two-track economy, where most Americans struggle every day, where good jobs are hard to find, and where the huge corps get all the rewards.”  They want “fundamental changes to fix the inequality in our economic system.”

2. Only 19 % agree that, “The federal government operates today with the consent of the people.”

3. 86 % agree that, “Political leaders are more interested in protecting their power and privilege than doing what is right for the American people.”

4. Only 14% agree that, “Politicians really care about people like me.”

5. 81% agree that, “Powerful interests, from Wall Street banks, to corporations, unions, and political interest groups have used campaign & lobbying money to rig the system for themselves.  They are looting the national treasury of billions of dollars at the expense of every man, woman and child.”

6. 65% agree that: “People like me don’t really have much say about how the government works.”

7. 77% agree that, “Government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors.”

8. Only 23% believe that, “The U.S. government is working for the people’s best interests.”

9. 81% agree that, “Political parties do things based on what’s in it for them rather than what really will fix problems faced by our country. Republicans help big corporations while the Democrats help big labor unions. Both are wrong. We need political leaders who will stop helping special interest groups.”

10. Only 26% agree that, “I am confident that future generations in the U.S. will have better lives and a higher standard of living than we have today.”

Read more about the research that established the basis for the We Need Smith movement here and here.

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We Need "Smith"