Poll confirms: A Cheney presidential run could swing the 2024 election to Trump

Source: Hot Air

It’d be a plot twist worthy of M. Night Shyamalan if the great Never Trumper hope ended up being the vehicle for Trump’s return to power.

Although, for the full Shyamalan effect, I suppose we’d have to find out in the end that Trump and Cheney were in cahoots all along. Imagine him giving his victory speech on election night 2024 — and out walks Liz Cheney as his surprise special guest.

They’re not in cahoots, but this new YouGov poll confirms what I’ve suspected. One might assume that having a second conservative running in the general election would hurt Trump, not Biden, by peeling away Republican votes that otherwise would have gone to the GOP nominee. And it’s true, there probably are a few very reluctant Trump voters who won’t support Biden under any circumstances but would throw a protest vote to Liz Cheney if given the chance.

My guess, though, is that most Republican voters who’d consider voting for Cheney hate Trump so much that Biden, not Trump, is their second choice among the three of them. If that’s true then Cheney’s entry into the race would cost Biden votes on balance by giving Trump-hating righties a more palatable alternative to voting for the president.

Which is exactly what YouGov sees in its new data. A Biden/Trump/Cheney race turns Cheney into a stalking horse for Trump, not Sleepy Joe. And not only does she pull more votes from Biden, she turns a Trump defeat into a comfortable Trump victory.

It’s remarkable that nearly all of Cheney’s support comes out of Biden’s column even though she’s a Republican and there’s another Republican on the ballot here. Trump barely feels any Cheney effect, losing two points while Biden goes from a second term to an electoral catastrophe in one fell swoop. That’s a function of the differing degrees of enthusiasm Trump and Biden each enjoy among their respective supporters. There are no “soft” Trump voters out there. If you like him, you love him, and Liz Cheney sure isn’t going to change your mind about that. There are plenty of “soft” Biden voters, though: If you like him, you may like him with misgivings or you may like him only relative to how much you dislike Trump. That’s the sort of voter who’s ripe to go third-party if an attractive third-party option presents itself.

Cheney will have to accept that she has only one true outlet for influence in American politics going forward, at least in the near term. And that’s persuading reluctant Republicans and independents to vote for Biden or whoever the Democrats end up nominating in 2024 if Trump is the Republican alternative.

According to the poll, her presence in the primary would do nothing to diminish Trump’s substantial odds of securing the nomination. One on one, Trump laps Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by 18 points (49% to 31%); with Cheney on the ballot, the former president still leads by the exact same margin (50% to 32%).

It would likely be a different story in a general election contest, however. Running against just Trump, Biden gets the support of 90% of registered voters who describe themselves as Democrats and 34% of registered voters who describe themselves as independents.

But with Cheney in the picture, those numbers fall 21 points (to 69%) and 16 points (to 18%), respectively — as the number of Democratic voters who say they’re “not sure” triples from 5% to 15%.

Her favorable rating among Republicans is 18/61 and among Democrats it’s 59/18. It is stone cold bananas that Dick Cheney’s daughter could conceivably take 21 points out of the Democratic column from an incumbent president who’s been in Democratic politics since the time of the dinosaurs. If you needed any further proof beyond Biden’s job approval rating that his own supporters are lukewarm at best about him, that’s it.

Add all of that up and you’ll see that Cheney is quickly running out of options when it comes to a presidential candidacy. If she runs in the GOP primary and ends up as one figure in a crowded field, hardly anyone will notice her. She’ll get five minutes at the debates to speak if she’s lucky. If she’s the only candidate to challenge Trump and ends up in a one-on-one contest with him, that’s hardly better. The RNC will simply cancel the debates and Trump will act like she doesn’t exist. If instead she runs in the general election as an independent, she’ll function as a wrecking ball against the Democratic Party, paving the way for Trump 2.0.

Bad choices all around. The only option in which she might do some good for her cause is to endorse Biden and end up as a sort of liaison or ambassador to Trump-skeptical righties and indies on the Democrats’ behalf. Which is the role her PAC is likely to fill in general elections, whether she intends it to or not.

You know what poll I’d like to see? A Biden/DeSantis/Cheney race. My guess is that she’d hurt Biden’s chances even more in a contest like that since some of the Dems and indies who’d insist on voting for Biden to stop Trump would perceive DeSantis as a lesser threat. They might sit out the race or cast a protest vote for Cheney or even vote for DeSantis. And I doubt DeSantis would lose many Republican votes to Cheney; show me the GOPer who prefers Trump to her but who also prefers Cheney to the Trumpy but non-crazy successful governor of Florida.

Bottom line: She won’t achieve anything by running for president. Her days as a political candidate are over but her future as an important political influencer could be significant.

I’ll leave you with this. Hoo boy.