2022 midterms

Liz Cheney Got Democrats to Vote for Her. It Didn’t Matter.

Liz Cheney yucks it up with voters in her home county, which also happens to be a Democratic stronghold. Photo: David Stubbs/REUTERS

Faced with almost certain defeat in her battle to win a fourth term in Congress, Liz Cheney appealed to Wyoming Democrats to cross party lines and support her in a Republican primary. It was a pretty big ask, since Wyoming has closed primaries; any Democrat who wanted to vote in the GOP contest had to reregister as a Republican (though the state does allow voters to do that as late as Election Day itself).

There were some clues on Election Night that Democrats did as Cheney wished. For one thing, Democratic primary voting in the statewide House race dropped from 16,859 in the 2018 election to under 8,000 this year (the returns are not yet complete). For another, the only two counties Cheney carried against Trump-endorsed Republican Harriet Hageman (Teton and Albany) were the only two Wyoming counties carried by Joe Biden in 2020.

But now Politico has some more direct evidence of Democratic party-switching to benefit the vice-chairman and heroine of the House Select Committee on January 6:

From Jan. 1, 2022, to the Aug. 16 primary, there was a 20 percent drop in Democratic voters. Republican voters jumped 10 percent, according to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office. …

The change in voters was even more apparent beginning in July after Cheney began asking for Democratic support. From July 1 to the primary, Democratic registration dropped from about 43,000 to 36,000 — a 15 percent decrease in just a little over a month.

Republicans picked up nearly 15,000 voters in that span, increasing to a record-breaking number of 215,000 people registered by the primary.

And in the two weeks between Aug. 1 and the primary, Democrats lost over 3,000 voters, going from 40,000 to 36,000 registered Democrats — the lowest it’s been in decades. Republican voters increased by almost 8,000 from Aug. 1-16.

In the end, Hageman trounced Cheney by a 66-29 margin with most of the votes counted. The defeat would have almost surely been quite a bit worse had the voting been confined to actual Wyoming Republicans. There weren’t enough Democrats in the whole state to save Cheney, even if they had all decided to vote Republican.

If Liz Cheney does decide to run for president in 2024, she should start somewhere other than in Wyoming. It may not be her worst state, but if it’s her best, she’s cooked before the campaign begins.

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Liz Cheney Got Democrats to Vote for Her. It Didn’t Matter.