Six Lessons from Donald Trump’s Great Victory

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Congratulations, President-elect Trump. Congratulations to the historic, never-before-seen governing majority he assembled. It’s time to hope I was wrong and work for President Trump’s success — for America’s success.

Here are my first six takeaways from last night’s historic victory:

1.) The RNC’s “Autopsy” from 2012 got it exactly wrong in arguing the key to victory was less social conservatism and more of the standard GOP economic message. One key to Trump’s victory was to combine social conservatism with a new populist economic message. White evangelicals voted for him in record, never-before-seen numbers: 81 percent to 16 percent according to exit polls. That tops George W. Bush’s record of 78 percent in 2004.

2.) Latinos were the dog that didn’t bark. Build a wall, chastise Mexican immigrants as rapists, threaten to deport illegals — despite Trump’s often unusually harsh tone, he actually gained slightly more of the Latino vote than Romney did, 29 percent versus 27 percent. In Florida, he won 33 percent of the Latino vote. Apparently, Hispanic voters care less about immigration than elites think they should.

3.) The biggest loser last night was the donor class. According to, Trump raised $250 million — less than half of the $687 million Clinton raised.  Trump demonstrated that you can lose the money primary and still win the election. Television is no longer king. This is a huge opportunity for social conservatives in particular; as donors recognize giving to super PACs is just padding the pockets of consultants who make money whether they win or lose, they are going to be looking for new more effective political vehicles. Continue Reading

Trusting Hillary Is the Best Reason to Vote for Trump

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Some have made the argument that Donald Trump and Mike Pence won’t move life, marriage, and religious liberty issues beyond the status quo.

Well, I think we can be certain that Hillary Clinton will change the status quo. For the past 40 years, the status quo has been that the federal government does not pay for elective abortions. Clinton, however, is committed to repeal of the Hyde Amendment and other government limitations on abortion funding. She is also opposed to the ban on partial-birth abortion, or any limitation on abortion at any stage of pregnancy, for any reason.

For many years, the status quo has been conscience protections for medical personnel and medical students who object to participating in the performance of abortions. Religious hospitals have also been protected from having to perform elective abortions in their facilities. Clinton, however, believes that religions are going to have to change to accommodate things she deems to be rights, such as abortion. People will no longer be allowed to assert religious beliefs to justify ‘discrimination’ — despite the fact that Bill Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law to protect the exercise of such beliefs.

For thousands of years, marriage was recognized as the union of one man and one woman — and Hillary Clinton expressed support for that position. However, if a photographer or wedding planner declines to be actively involved in a same-sex wedding ceremony due to his or her religious beliefs, does anyone believe that Clinton will support the exercise of such religious beliefs? Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood Plans to Spend Millions to Influence North Carolina Elections

Photo credit: ALL Life Defender via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Amidst the anticipation of last night’s presidential debate, USA Today reported yesterday afternoon that Planned Parenthood has announced it intends to spend “seven figures” in North Carolina to push its pro-abortion agenda in an attempt to shift close state races toward the Democrats:

Planned Parenthood Action PAC North Carolina, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes revealed Monday that they now consider North Carolina a “federal priority state” and will be spending big in hopes of electing Democrats up and down ballot.

“We’re hearing from voters every day who reject the divisive politics and policies of Donald Trump, Richard Burr and Pat McCrory — policies that jeopardize the health and well-being of families,” Deirdre Schifeling, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Votes, told USA TODAY in an email. “Women and families must have the freedom to access the health care services they need. Any politician who stands in the way instead of standing with women and families is going to be sent packing in November.”

The investment will fund canvassing, phone banking, grassroots organizing, mail and digital ads through election day. A series of videos that target Republican Gov. Pat McCrory specifically are also being released.

We have written a number of times here at The Pulse 2016 about the importance of North Carolina and Gov. McCrory’s race in particular to the conservative movement. With Big Business, the NBA, the NCAA, and the Obama administration already attempting to punish the state for its strong stand on the transgender bathroom issue, it was probably only a matter of time before Planned Parenthood became involved as well. Continue Reading

Is North Carolina Do or Die for Social Conservatives? (VIDEO)

Frank Cannon is president of the American Principles Project and a respected conservative political strategist with over 30 years of experience.

… I think that it’s always the case when there is one governor [Pat McCrory] willing to take on a policy that elites — and by elites, they’re almost exclusively liberal elites when they come to the media and academia, but also the funders, the conservative elites look at a race and say, ‘that’s an issue we don’t want to touch.’

McCrory has to either prove it’s an asset or it’s a liability. If he loses, regardless of what other issues are at play in North Carolina, it’ll be decided that his race was a loss because of his support of House Bill 2 in North Carolina and pushing back against the transgender movement. If he wins, and it’s able to be shown that this was a part of his win, it doesn’t mean that this will move forward; it means it’s still possible for it to move forward…

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What Would a Loss in North Carolina Mean for Religious Liberty? (VIDEO)

Frank Cannon is president of the American Principles Project and a respected conservative political strategist with over 30 years of experience.

[A loss in North Carolina] means [religious liberty fights] are over.

…I think there is such pressure when the National Basketball Association moves its all-star game; when high-profile athletes say they won’t be married in your state. The onus is on you as the candidate to show that ordinary people in the grassroots have a different opinion. If they don’t, then it’s hard to justify you moving against your own donor class and against the press elites to champion a position that actually makes it harder for you to be elected.

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Could One State Election Decide the Future of the Transgender Debate?

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (photo credit: NCDOTcommunications via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Earlier this week, APP senior fellow and contributor Maggie Gallagher was interviewed by Radio America’s Greg Corombos on religious freedom and the Republican Party. While religious freedom has become a hot-button issue in many places across the country, Gallagher sees one race as being particularly pivotal in deciding how this debate plays out after 2016: the reelection effort of North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.

With certain powerful elements of the GOP hoping to move the party leftward on social issues, a loss for McCrory — and by extension his strong support for North Carolina’s “bathroom law” — could be used to argue that Republican leaders should acquiesce to the LGBT agenda rather than be branded “anti-LGBT”:

“They’re going to look at this [GOP Gov. Pat] McCrory race, and they’re going to decide whether or not they’re going to shut down on these issues, whether these are just not politically viable issues in America,” said Gallagher, who is now a senior fellow at the American Principles Project Foundation.

“I can tell you that the national Republican Party would like to shut down,” Gallagher said. “This is going to include not only the national Republican Party, but you’re going to see the wave of state efforts to provide conscience protections to gay marriage dissenters grind to a halt.”

With McCrory trailing Democrat Roy Cooper and so much attention being paid to social issues, Gallagher said a McCrory loss will lead national GOP figures to the wrong conclusion.

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The Future of Social Conservatives Is on the Line in North Carolina

Photo credit: Mr. TinDC via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The future of religious liberty for traditional religious believers hangs on what happens to North Carolina governor Pat McCrory’s bid for re-election this November, and he is down six points in the latest CNN poll.

The Atlanta Constitution Journal just acknowledged as much in a story on the decision to hold more public debates on the need for laws to protect the conscience rights of gay-marriage dissenters in Georgia (where Republican governor Nathan Deal vetoed such legislation in 2015):

The re-introduction of ‘religious liberty’ legislation may be a given, but its prospects could largely depend on what happens in North Carolina on Election Day.

Shortly before Deal’s veto, Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed into law a measure that barred transgender individuals from using public restrooms associated with their present identity rather than their birth gender.

McCrory is now locked in a tight re-election bid, and Democrat Hillary Clinton is now leading North Carolina polls in the presidential contest.

The Republican party institutionally is already desperately seeking some way to stand down on any issue the Left defines as “anti-gay.” The Chambers of Commerce in Indiana and Georgia have emerged as among the chief opponents of conscience protections for gay-marriage dissenters, and even Target’s unexpected losses after it proudly announced the opening of its women’s bathrooms and dressing rooms to transgender biological males hasn’t deterred the Chamber of Commerce from continuing to support the Left’s interpretation that people with penises can be women, too.

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Social Issues Still Matter, Despite What the Mainstream Media Says

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A recent article from The Washington Post argues that Donald Trump and the Republican Party no longer need to fight on issues important to social conservatives to win elections.

The article’s argument hinges on a January 2016 poll, which suggests that Republican voters prioritize issues related to the economy and national security above moral and cultural issues.

“Republican legislatures have recently passed laws restricting abortion and trying to limit the effect of the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage,” the authors write, “But these new laws have apparently gotten a collective shrug from much of the Republican electorate. Trump’s rise may be a sign of the priorities to come.”

This argument has a number of issues, however. For one thing, when pollsters ask Americans open-ended questions about what they believe is the most important issue, wildly divergent answers emerge. There is no single, consistent, flawless way to gauge which particular issue is most important to Americans.

Another issue with the authors’ line of reasoning is that voters can care about multiple problems facing the country at once. No voter considers a candidate in a vacuum. Each time a citizens walks into the voting booth, he makes calculations based on morality and interest. Even though candidates like Trump may promise to address problems that resonate with a voter — the economy or terrorism, for example — he may still choose another candidate stronger on moral issues.

Perhaps most egregiously, The Washington Post writers assume the American people have come to accept a leftist status quo on social issues. Continue Reading

What Is the Biggest Political Threat to Social Conservatives? (VIDEO)

Frank Cannon is president of the American Principles Project and a respected conservative political strategist with over 30 years of experience.

I think the single biggest threat is economic elites who actively oppose the social issue agenda and find it distasteful and find it socially in the parties and in the milieus in which they operate. But secondarily, and equally as important, is that the social issues movement has tied itself to the economics of the Republican elites, and what that means is the interests of working men and women — of labor — is being confounded by people who, in addition, oppose the actual social issues positions of their supposed allies.


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Trump Speaks to Conservative Leaders at “Secret” New York City Meeting

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

I had the opportunity to attend Donald Trump’s “secret meeting” with social conservatives in New York City yesterday. I came away very impressed.

Former Governor Mike Huckabee — a potentially great VP pick — acted as the moderator for the event, and led a conversation with Trump that lasted more than an hour. Trump took difficult questions from several different social conservative leaders, including Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, and Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.

I went into the meeting fairly certain I was going to vote for Trump in November, mostly out of deference to the idea that a “President Hillary Clinton” would be an extinction-level event for America. But deep down, I wanted more. I wanted Trump to reassure me that he would actively fight for life and religious freedom. I wanted to feel good about supporting the GOP nominee, rather than just opposing Hillary Clinton.

I wanted more. And Trump gave me, and the nearly 1,000 social conservatives in attendance, a lot more.

Obviously, Trump is never going to be a policy wonk. Specifics are not his forte. He’s a ‘big idea’ guy. But here are some of the assurances he made yesterday:

  • He will appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices, vetted by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.
  • He will defend religious freedom vigorously and “give the power back” to people of faith.
  • He proposed striking down an IRS ruling that prevents pastors/priests from speaking more freely about politics.
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