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Liz Cheney is facing a likely primary defeat in Wyoming. Here's why

Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming speaks at a hearing held by the House Jan. 6 committee. Cheney, who serves as vice chair of the committee, is facing a likely defeat in Tuesday's GOP primary in Wyoming.
Saul Loeb
/
AFP via Getty Images
Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming speaks at a hearing held by the House Jan. 6 committee. Cheney, who serves as vice chair of the committee, is facing a likely defeat in Tuesday's GOP primary in Wyoming.

Liz Cheney has cut a national profile, crossing former President Donald Trump because of his conduct on Jan. 6.

The Wyoming Republican is one of two Republicans on the House Jan. 6 committee, of which she is the vice chair — and her voice has been one of the clearest laying blame for the insurrection on Trump.

But on Tuesday, Cheney faces voters back home in Wyoming who will determine her fate and whether they want to send her back to Congress.

And she looks to be in significant trouble.

Cheney's broadsides against Trump put her job in serious jeopardy, having drawn his ire and prompting him to endorse primary challenger Harriet Hageman.

Polls show Cheney down by 20 points or more as her approval among Republicans in the state has nosedived.

In an effort to adjust for that, Cheney has been trying to appeal to Democrats, encouraging them to cross over and vote for her, even invoking the late Democratic President John F. Kennedy in a fundraising email.

That seems like a good idea on its face, but it's likely ill-fated. There simply aren't enough Democrats in Wyoming, the state that voted by a wider margin for Trump in the 2020 presidential election than any other state in the country.

It's been odd to see Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, lauded as something of a folk hero among Democrats. The numbers bear that out: In the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, Cheney had a 60% favorability rating with Democrats.

But among Republicans, her favorability sank to just 13%.

Looking at other surveys, it's a similar story. A Quinnipiac poll, for example, showed her approval with Republicans at 17%.

In Wyoming, a survey found Cheney's disapproval in Wyoming at 72%.

That's bad news for a candidate trying to win a competitive primary.

Let's look at the numbers. Broadly, even if every Democrat, every member of the Constitution Party, libertarian and every other otherwise unaffiliated registered voter in the state broke for Cheney, she'd still be more than 200,000 votes short in a state of just under 300,000 registered voters.

To put an even finer point on it, if Cheney wins every Wyoming voter who is not a Republican, she'd still lose by almost 50 points (73%-27%) if she won no Republican votes.

Cheney will obviously win some Republicans' votes, but that's quite the steep hill to start from.

It all points to a possibly rough night for Cheney, and if she does lose, just two of the 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump's impeachment as a result of his conduct on Jan. 6 will have won their primaries.

One of those, California's David Valadao, is one of the most endangered Republicans in the country, because he's in a district President Biden won in 2020 by double digits.

That means when the next Congress begins, it's possible just one Republican Trump impeacher, Washington's Dan Newhouse, will likely still be in office.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Domenico Montanaro is NPR's senior political editor/correspondent. Based in Washington, D.C., his work appears on air and online delivering analysis of the political climate in Washington and campaigns. He also helps edit political coverage.