After announcing last week that she would be mounting a primary challenge against incumbent senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming, early polls suggest Liz Cheney may have been overly optimistic about her odds of winning in the Cowboy State.
According to a Public Policy Polling poll released on Tuesday, only 33 percent of Wyoming voters have a favorable opinion of Cheney. Furthermore, the 46th vice president’s daughter trails both Senator Enzi and Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) in a primary matchup.
At this point, Cheney’s only chance of winning the Senate seat would be the highly unlikely combination of Senator Enzi suddenly deciding to no longer seek re-election, and challenger Gary Trauner — who currently holds a 19 percent favorability rating in the state — winning the Democratic nomination.
Cheney isn’t as well received as her father, who holds a 50 percent favorability rating among Wyoming voters. This may have something to do with the fact that voters in Wyoming know that she isn’t native to the state. In the video announcing her candidacy Cheney claimed to be a Wyomingite, but declined to mention that she has never actually lived there. When asked by PPP “Do you think it would be more appropriate for Liz Cheney to run for the Senate from Wyoming or Virginia?” 50 percent of Wyoming voters said Cheney should consider running in Virginia.
Dean Debnam, president of PPP said, “Liz Cheney’s Senate prospects don’t look very good. Wyoming voters see her as an outsider, and on top of that Mike Enzi is very popular in the state.” Enzi holds a 59 percent approval rating, nearly double Cheney’s.
Even if Cheney were to defeat Enzi, she would face more trouble in the general election. In a hypothetical matchup between Cheney and former Democratic governor of Wyoming Dave Freudenthal, PPP finds Freudenthal ahead by a three-point margin. In the country’s third most conservative state, Cheney ought to be stunned and alarmed that a Democrat holds a viable chance of defeating her in a general election.
Realistically, Enzi’s state should remain comfortably in Republican hands, but if by chance Liz Cheney won the primary, she would be risking GOP control of the seat. In fact, before Cheney formally announced her campaign, former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson warned of the possibility of her running: “It’s a disaster—a divisive, ugly situation—and all it does is open the door for the Democrats for 20 years.”
Currently, Senator Enzi and the GOP have nothing to worry about come the November election. The chances of any Democrat winning in Wyoming, where nearly 50 percent of voters identify as conservative, is highly unlikely. Not only are voters in the state strongly supporting Enzi, but leaders in her own party have already turned their back on her and endorsed the incumbent senator.