Should Democrats Start Rooting For a Liz Cheney Win?
Of course you’ve heard by now that Liz “Baby Dick” Cheney is running in the Wyoming GOP primary against long-term Senator Mike Enzi. This has created a very uncomfortable situation for Republicans, both in Wyoming and nationally.
It also looks like Liz was so sure that she could just waltz in and steamroll Enzi with her money, media connections and pseudo-grassroots support that she failed to actually get to know the voters of her newly-adopted home state. According to a new PPP poll, it’s gonna be a real uphill battle:
Overall only 31% of Wyoming voters consider Cheney to be a ‘Wyomingite’ to 50% who do not. By a 50/28 margin they think it would be more appropriate for Cheney to run for the Senate from Virginia than Wyoming. Even Republican primary voters share, by a 45/33 spread, the sentiment that Cheney should be running in Virginia instead of Wyoming.
Cheney starts out at a 54/26 disadvantage in her primary challenge to Enzi. She only has a narrowly positive favorability rating with GOP primary voters at 40/34, while Enzi is quite popular with a 66/24 approval rating.
Yep, Wyoming Republicans think it would be swell to have Liz as a senator…from Virginia. Where she belongs. While she’s barely popular, Enzi is very well liked and voters can point to nothing he’s done that should make him lose his seat. Not that that matters – Liz just really wants that seat!
So why should Democrats care? One conservative Republican or another — it’s not as if there’s a chance in hell that a Democrat could ever win the seat, right? After all, President Obama is more unpopular in Wyoming than any other state, with a 70% disapproval rating, and 53% of those polled saying they could never vote for a Democrat for Senate. But what’s this?
Former Democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal continues to be a very popular figure in Wyoming, with a net +33 favorability rating at 55/22. So it says something about the difficulty Democrats face in national elections in the state that despite that popularity he still trails Enzi by 23 points in a hypothetical match up, 54/31…
The only scenario in which Democrats could be competitive for this seat- and it’s very far fetched- is one in which Freudenthal decided to run and then Cheney somehow defeated Enzi in the primary. Freudenthal would actually lead Cheney 45/42 in a hypothetical match, likely due to her under water 33/43 favorability rating with the overall electorate.
That’s how bad it is for Liz. As things stand today, even if she did get the nomination, she would trail Dave Freudenthal as the Democratic nominee. So should Democrats start rooting for a Cheney primary win? That’s an easy one — no.
For one thing, Freudenthal has shown no interest in running. Secondly, Liz doesn’t look likely to be able to defeat Enzi. And even were Enzi to ‘take the hint’ and retire, Liz doesn’t appear to be a shoe-in in an open primary, with figures such as Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis with far better favorability ratings. Finally, a lot can happen in a political campaign.
Mike Enzi may be reliably conservative, but he’s no Liz Cheney. It seems clear to this observer that Cheney chose this seat because of Enzi’s age, low-key profile, and the relative bargain of running a campaign in a state with a population smaller than Las Vegas. It also seems obvious that she chose not to wait because she needs to get her elected political career going, as she clearly has her sights set on an office higher than the junior senator from Wyoming. In short, it’s too big a risk. We do not want Liz Cheney anywhere near the Senate.