The Unsung Architect of Trumpism

By Molly Ball

Kellyanne Conway is best known as a spin artist, a mascot, and a folk hero to Donald Trump voters—in other words, a high-profile spokeswoman. But there’s a deeper role she hasn’t gotten much credit for: a principal architect of the theory behind Trump’s winning campaign.

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.

Conway’s role in shaping Trump’s political strategy is among the themes of my profile of her in The Atlantic’s April issue, and it bears a deeper look. She played a key part in shaping the counterintuitive political theory—dismissed at the time by both Republicans and Democrats—that ended up putting Trump in the White House. 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.

The story begins in the aftermath of the 2012 election, which Mitt Romney lost after receiving just 27 percent of the Hispanic vote. The Republican National Committee responded with a now-infamous report that’s come to be known as the “autopsy,” which urged the party to rebrand itself with women, young people, …read more

Via:: The Atlantic

      

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