“America actually made good on its 30-year self-avowed description, if you will, in its president” by electing Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, told advisors Tuesday at the MarketCounsel Summit in Miami Beach.
Conway, who is president and CEO of The Polling Company Inc./Woman Trend, was the surprise substitute speaker for Anthony Scaramucci, founder of SkyBridge Capital and a Trump advisor, who had to cancel his appearance at the Summit. She told attendees that “the keys and cues of the election were sitting in front of us all the time. It was hard for people to conceptualize that someone with no political or military experience as president of the United States,” but “voters have been telling the pollsters for decades: That’s exactly what I want. Someone outside the system who goes to Washington owing no one anything.”
During this presidential election cycle, more than 70% of Americans, she continued, “said all along that they wanted to take the country in a new direction. They wanted change.”
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “clearly didn’t represent a new and different direction or change. So we absolutely tried to capitalize on that.”
Conway, a professional pollster who quipped that she’s “a fully recovered attorney,” let attendees in on telltale signs about the polls signaling a Trump victory that the campaign didn’t discuss publicly.
“We saw early on something we would not discuss publicly, which is that Secretary Clinton was going to have a very difficult time attracting and … indeed retaining President Obama’s coalition. And his coalition was unique to him,” in that it included “voters of color, and very significant margins of millennials came out for him twice – 66% voted for him in 2008, and 60% voted for him in 2012.”
The Trump campaign “did not see Clinton enthusing and engaging to a critical mass, these voters,” Conway said. “If you talk about African-American voters, Barack Obama carried them at about 93% to 95%, so if Secretary Clinton did not have the same turnout numbers, it’s going to hurt at some level.”
Another advantage for Trump, she continued, was that “people presume[d] that the 2016 electorate will look like the 2012 electorate. That was not going to happen. The cues and clues for that were in the primaries, when Donald Trump was able to attract and convert a number of self-identified independents and Democrats in states like Pennsylvania to come over and vote for him. So that’s what happened in this election as well.”
Conway added that she believes “this is probably one of the worst, if not the worst, years for media pollsters, academic pollsters and some private pollsters on record” in terms of predicting who would win the presidency. “People presumed who the electorate is and would be, rather than allowing the electorate to tell you who they were.”
Conway noted that while Clinton “had a lot of advantages” with female voters, she “basically got within a point of what Obama received among women.”
“Part of that tells you the limits of demography. Where were the women of this country saying we must have a female president? … Good for her for having the courage to run, [and]…she broke the glass ceiling by being nominated” as the first female president. But female voters, she added, ultimately asked: “Do you share my values and my vision, my position on issues and my life?”
Another critical variable that secured a Trump win: for voters, “why they felt unfavorably toward Donald Trump was much more manageable than why they felt that way for Clinton. Her trustworthy and honesty numbers…the only time they budged is when they increased.”
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