Kellyanne Elizabeth Fitzpatrick was born on January 20, 1967, in Camden, New Jersey, to Diane Fitzpatrick. Conway's father, who had Irish ancestry, owned a small trucking company, and her mother, who was of Italian descent, worked at a bank. They divorced when she was three. She was raised by her mother, grandmother and two unmarried aunts in the Atco section of Waterford Township, New Jersey, and graduated from St. Joseph High School in 1985. Her family's religion was Catholic.
Conway credits her experience working for eight summers on a blueberry farm in Hammonton, New Jersey, for teaching her a strong work ethic. "The faster you went, the more money you'd make." At age 16, she won the New Jersey Blueberry Princess pageant. At 20, she won the World Champion Blueberry Packing competition. She states, "Everything I learned about life and business started on that farm."
Conway received her Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude in political science from Trinity College, Washington, D.C. (now Trinity Washington University), where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She then earned a Juris Doctor with honors from the George Washington University Law School in 1992. She served as a judicial clerk for Judge Richard A. Levie of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia after graduation.
Conway entered the polling business with Wirthlin Group, a Republican polling firm. She also worked for Luntz Research Companies before founding her own firm, The Polling Company, in 1995. Conway's company has consulted on consumer trends, often trends regarding women. Conway's clients have included Vaseline, American Express and Hasbro.
In the 1990s, Conway, with other young conservative women Laura Ingraham, Barbara Olsen and Ann Coulter, helped turn punditry into "stylish stardom" in both Washington and cable television. In another review of the era in the capital, Conway as Fitzpatrick put it that her "broad mind and small waist have not switched places". Conway, Ingraham and Coulter, sometimes termed among others "pundettes", also all appeared on Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect over the period.
Among the political figures Conway worked for were Congressman Jack Kemp; Senator Fred Thompson;[better source needed] former Vice President Dan Quayle; Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; and Congressman (now Vice President) Mike Pence. She worked as the senior advisor to Gingrich during his unsuccessful 2012 United States presidential election campaign. Another client in 2012 was U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin.
In addition to her political opinion research work, Conway has directed demographic and attitudinal survey projects for trade associations and private companies, including American Express, ABC News, Major League Baseball, and Ladies Home Journal. Her firm The Polling Company also includes WomanTrend, a research and consulting division.
Conway has appeared as a commentator on polling and the political scene, having appeared on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, NY1, and the Fox News Channel, in addition to various radio programs. She received the Washington Post's "Crystal Ball" award for accurately predicting the outcome of the 2004 election.