Why Liz Cheney is in big trouble in Wyoming
Rep. Liz Cheney has become an unexpected hero for Democrats. She was one of the few Republicans to vote to impeach President Donald Trump last year, was one of his most vocal critics in the GOP, and is vice chair of the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riot in the U.S. Capitol .
But let’s not confuse appreciative press coverage and bipartisan probity with popularity in the place where popularity matters most to Cheney: Wyoming.
A look at the data shows that Cheney is a clear underdog in her efforts to retain her seat.
Wyoming surveys are limited, but what exists paints an ominous picture. That Cooperative Election Study (CES), a major academic poll, asks Americans whether they approve or disapprove of their member of Congress. Sample sizes in each district are typically in the low 100s or under, although the trend is instructive.
Cheney had a 72% disapproval rating in the late 2021 edition of the poll, conducted about 10 months after she voted to impeach Trump. That was nearly 40 points higher than her 26% rejection rate in the late 2020 version deployed before Cheney’s vote. Overall, Cheney was the least popular congressman in the 2021 poll.
This aligns with what recent internal polls from the August Republican primary show for Cheney’s vacancy in Wyoming — Cheney is a significant margin behind one of her challengers, Trump-backed Harriet Hageman.
Well, we should treat this data with caution as the people publishing it probably have their own motives such as: B. Support that Cheney loses. Still, the Congressman’s backlog makes a lot of sense given what Wyoming’s bipartisan poll has found.
Also, national polls seem to confirm Cheney’s poor data in Wyoming. Only 17% of Republicans nationwide approved of Cheney’s job as vice chairman of the Jan. 6 committee, according to a recent study Quinnipiac University survey. The vast majority (61%) disagreed.
Why is this remarkable? Because the vast majority of Wyomingites are Republicans. According to that Wyoming Secretary of State, 71% of registered voters are Republicans. Only 15% are Democrats.
From an electoral perspective, this is exactly what makes Cheney’s decision to run against Trump so damaging. One could imagine her in a better form of re-election in a state that was at least reasonably competitive nationally.
However, Wyoming does not have many Democrats. Still, Cheney has been trying to get what few Democrats there are to go over and run in the Republican primary. These stats show that these efforts probably won’t do much for them.
The problem for Cheney is that there isn’t much room in the Republican Party for those who voted to impeach Trump. A 2021 Pew Research Center survey found that 64% of Republicans said the party should not accept those who did.
And the recent primaries also suggest that their actions towards Trump could cost them.
Take a look at the other nine members of the Republican House of Representatives who voted to impeach Trump. Four chose not to run for re-election.
Two have already faced the primary voters.
South Carolina’s Tom Rice lost his bid for another term last month, receiving less than 25% of the vote in the GOP primary. According to CNN and the Federal Electoral Commissionit appears that Rice has had a lower share of the vote than any incumbent in a Partisan House primary this century.
Meanwhile, Californian David Valadao (who hasn’t been nearly as vocal about Trump as Cheney) did advance to the general election. Valadao did so in a bipartisan primary that allowed Democrats to vote for him without having to re-register as a Republican.
However, Valadao received only 26% of the vote across the district. That was by far his lowest percentage of any impartial California elementary school since he first ran for Congress in 2012. Of those who voted for Republican candidates in the June primary, 47% supported Valadao. Less than 50% is weak for an incumbent.
Poll data and real-world election data aside, Cheney’s problems are evident in fundraising numbers. So is the dichotomy between her national fame and troubles at home.
According to that FEC and OpenSecretsCheney raised more than $10 million this cycle through March 31. Hageman collected just over $2 million by the same date.
But Hageman collected nearly $650,000 of her total from Wyoming donors, more than double Cheney’s domestic haul (about $270,000).
In summary, Cheney’s stats are discouraging as she heads into her August primary. No wonder the betting markets give her less than 10% chance of another term.
That doesn’t mean Cheney can’t win. It would just be quite surprising.