Bill Sniffin: Here Are Wild And Wooly Predictions On Cheney-Hageman Race

Bill Sniffin writes: When I reached out to my network of informed Wyoming citizens, I asked them about my theory that 15,000 Democrats and Independents might cross over. And is there a possibility that even a higher amount might cross over?

Bill Sniffin

August 03, 20228 min read

Collage Maker 02 Aug 2022 07 23 PM
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Bill Sniffin, publisher emeritus

Darin Smith says Harriet Hageman will beat incumbent Liz Cheney by 25,000 votes in the GOP primary Aug. 16 to see who represents Wyoming in its lone Congressional district.

The well-known Cheyenne GOP conservative says: “The cross-over won’t come close to saving Cheney this time. Regardless of ‘moderate’ Republicans’ conjecture that Hageman’s low likeability will give Cheney a chance to win, it is just not reflected in the numbers.”

Smith says: “Close to 70 percent of Republicans will vote for Hageman. It’s a bullet-proof margin for Hageman. The people of Wyoming are going to throw Liz Cheney out of office because of her reckless disregard for the Constitution, election integrity, the State of Wyoming, and the future of this nation. Liz is so unpopular with the heartland of Wyoming that she couldn’t beat Lucifer in a head-to-head race right now.”

Huge Crossover In Jackson

Over in Jackson, former U.S. Senate candidate Dave Dodson reports that of the first 1,000 Teton County voters to absentee vote, some 950 were Republican. This may predict a formidable movement across the state among Democrats and Independents to switch parties to vote for Cheney.

He says: “It will come down to whether Republicans who do not support Trump, and cross-over voters, feel Cheney has a shot. She needs to make the case that if they get out of bed and vote, it will tip the election.This election comes down to Cheney convincing Wyoming she has a chance.”

Lifetime Democrat John Davis of Worland says: “In this Republican state, I never like to admit I’m a DemocratExcept that for the first time in my life, I’m not a Democrat going into an election. I switched over to vote for Liz Cheney and did so.”

Cheney supporter Charley Smith of Lander writes: “It is a mistake to assume the cross-over voters are all Biden supporters. There is real fear out there that we are close to losing our democracy. They aren’t changing their registration to vote for Cheney, they are voting to preserve our democracy.”

Jim Hicks up in Buffalo says: “I really don’t see that many Democrats making the move. My guess it will be big if it’s 15,000. Don’t know that many Democrats here, but I sure haven’t heard any of them even talk about it. The ‘Hate Liz’ folks seem to be resolute and they are of the Trump Cult mind frame. Absolutely nothing will change their minds. That vote seems to be in granite. High fuel and grocery prices may cool the incentive to cross over, Hicks said.”

Political pundit and Proust reader Rod Miller of Cheyenne offered up this observation: “I think that the election will be a lot closer than the polls predict. If Liz ends up winning, it won’t be because of anything other than her opposition to Trump. That is, in reality, the only issue in this race. And I’m not sure that attitude is ‘pollable,’ so I don’t trust the polls. But, if you’re gonna hold me to predicting, I’ll predict that the race will be a lot tighter than most folks expect.”

Vietnam vet Joe Quiroz of Lander chimes in: “I am not generally a fan of radical change, in other words, conservative by definition. What has become clear to me is that Donald Trump, through superb communication skills, has hijacked a significant part of the Republican Party and is driving it recklessly on a mountain road with no guard rails. That can’t help anybody.”

Talking Down At The Courthouse

Fremont County Commissioner Mike Jones of Lander has been eavesdropping on folks at the courthouse he visits each day. He says: “I look at the elections from 2020 and 2018, both had close to 140,000 voters in the primary. If we assume 30 percent are Democrats (42,000) then 71 percent would have to cross over to reach 30,000. Even if 50 percent cross then it would be 20,000. I am skeptical about anything above 50 percent. As I roam through the county buildings I am hearing about a steady stream of folks switching parties but it is still difficult to estimate.”

Jones continues: “That being said, I am thinking the undecideds, and the moderates who don’t respond to polls could still be a factor as well, making for tighter races than expected. In the end, state races are tough to call.” 

When I reached out to my network of informed Wyoming citizens, I asked them about my theory that 15,000 Democrats and Independents might cross over? Writer Cat Urbigkit dismissed my theories as follows: “I thought your 15,000 crossover voter prediction was overblown. This is a primary election in a mid-term election year, which is vastly different from a general election in a presidential election year, especially in terms of voter turnout.” 

She continues: “What might be interesting to watch for is voter turnout in the primary election, which has been low in recent years. In 2020, only 52 percent of voting-age Wyomingites were registered to vote in the primary election, but less than 32 percent of these folks actually voted. That voter turnout rate was up from the low of 25 percent in the 2012 primary, but those are anemic numbers when compared to voter participation in the primaries of the 1990s.” 

Long-time GOP operator Jack Speight of Cheyenne was brief with his comments: “As a Liz supporter I hope the hell you’re right but I would have no way of verifying more than 15,000.”

Another Vietnam vet, retired banker Bob Spengler of Lander, complained: “Wish I had faith in the values, integrity, and intelligence of the voters in Wyoming to be able to say that not only would the Independents and Democrats vote in the Republican primary to sweep Liz to victory but also there would be a ground swell of Republican voters also supporting her courage, her support for our Constitution and above all the truth as so clearly supported by the facts. But, alas, ignorance, racism, bigotry, white insecurity, and anti-federal government anything, all seem to characterize a good portion of the Wyoming citizenry. 

Spengler continues his rant: “Liz is only part of the question. The real one is the ground swell of continued allegiance to Trump and his brand also going to sweep local and Wyoming State contests pushing Wyoming further to the radical right?” 

Strategist Talks About ‘Momentum’

The best political strategist I know anonymously contributed the following:

“First, from a purely numbers perspective, I don’t believe that there are enough voters for Liz to make up the gap. Let’s assume that her current 25 percent in the polling is made up of those Republicans who are supporting her because they support her stance on Trump. That means she needs roughly 50,000 more votes to catch up to HH’s 70+ percent. Even if she doubled the number of crossover voters in 2018, she would not come close. 

“Second, I’ve done 20-plus campaigns and I believe that one of the most important gauges is momentum. You can’t fake it. I always gut check myself and say ‘are you engaging in wishful thinking?’ Or is there really momentum? I think the #1 reason Liz Cheney is not going to win, is because Liz Cheney has said she doesn’t think she’s going to win. 

“Put yourself in the shoes of a Jackson liberal on primary day in August, 2018: ‘That Friess guy JUST got endorsed by Trump plus the last poll had him up 1 percent – this is going to be close, I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!’ 

“Now put yourself in those same shoes on August 16, 2022: ‘Liz Cheney has no shot, she has said so herself – I hope she wins, but I’m not going out of my way to vote.’ 

“I think Liz will get 15,000-20,000 crossover votes, but in order to motivate the tens of thousands more she needs – she would need to be going into this final stretch neck-in-neck – down to the wire – with a momentum that makes those notoriously flaky midterm primary voters want to show up, fill out an extra form, and vote Republican.” 

There are a lot of bright people commenting here with a variety of different theories. It appears the consensus is that Liz will lose, but by how much? A landslide or a knife-thin margin?

Or, then again, maybe she wins.

Thanks to all these folks for chiming in.

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Bill Sniffin

Wyoming Life Columnist

Columnist, author, and journalist Bill Sniffin writes about Wyoming life on Cowboy State Daily -- the state's most-read news publication.