The Atlantic magazine gives pollster Kellyanne Conway credit for Donald Trump’s stunning victory in November, saying that she is “a principal architect of the theory behind Trump’s winning campaign.”
Conway gets the credit because she showed in a 2014 survey how Americans’ concerns about the fairness and impact of large-scale legal and illegal immigration on Americans were being ignored, says author Molly Ball. Instead of paying attention to voters, elite business leaders, ethnic lobbyists, and media players preferred to focus their attention on foreign migrants into the United States.
Years before Conway went to work on Trump’s campaign—when she was still a midlist conservative pollster and Steve Bannon was still running Breitbart—the two were charter members, Bannon recently told me, of the “cabal” he was forming behind the scenes to upend the Republican establishment. And Conway’s ideas were the key to a major shift in the way Trump addressed immigration, which became his signature issue.
One Conway poll in particular—a little-noticed 2014 messaging memo commissioned by a controversial anti-immigration group—Bannon cited as a sort of Rosetta stone of the message that powered Trump’s victory. It was, Bannon told me, a pillar of “the intellectual infrastructure of the populist movement that candidate Trump galvanized” from the moment he began his candidacy in 2015…
That makes Conway a central figure in the political realignment Trump pulled off in 2016, far more than the mere talking head many take her for…
Another conclusion is that Trump’s political strategists consider immigration restriction to be at the heart of his electoral appeal. It is the major dividing point between his philosophy and that of the erstwhile GOP establishment. Conway told me Trump had fundamentally changed the terms of the immigration debate. “The conversation before was, ‘What is fair to the illegal immigrant?’ Are you ripping families apart? Should the DACA kids stay? Should they have driver’s licenses?” she told me. “Now, the conversation is also, ‘What’s fair to the American worker?’ What’s fair to the local economy? What’s fair to law enforcement? What is fair all the way around?”
The Atlantic‘s article is not news to Breitbart readers, who already read about Conway’s central role, and who are familiar with her 2014 poll. Other conservative outlets also described the impact of Conway’s 2014 survey.