Bill Sniffin: Here Are My Predictions For The 2022 Wyoming GOP Primary Election

in Column/Bill Sniffin

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher emeritus

The world is watching.

This is big folks!

Who’s going to win?

Those have been opening paragraphs and headlines of my columns leading up to this moment. We are watching world history happen right here in our little Wyoming.

Politically, we are watching the World Series, March Madness, and the Super Bowl all wrapped up into one campaign. This election between incumbent Liz Cheney and challenger Harriet Hageman has been called the battle for the soul of the Wyoming Republican Party, which is not correct. This election is unique in its own right.

These two valiant women, who are former allies, have found themselves in a punchbowl being watched by political observers and campaign junkies from around the world. 

One will win and one will lose. We will know the verdict some time on the night of Tuesday, Aug. 16. It is easy to have confidence that our state’s election system will give us a clear decision on who emerges victorious.

50 years of covering Wyoming elections

I have been covering elections in Wyoming for over 50 years and have never seen one like this. I also have been predicting winners and losers for decades. This year it has been tough predicting what is going to happen.

It is important to note these are predictions not endorsements. I am not sure who I am voting for yet but must make those decisions soon.

Here are my predictions for the 2022 GOP primary races:

All along, I have written here that this race is Harriet Hageman’s to lose. A win was always in the bag for her as long as some gaffe or scandal did not derail her campaign.

Today, not so fast. After crunching my estimated numbers of probable voters, there is a possible path where Liz could win this. What a surprise!

If Liz can pull off the upset of the decade, it would be because of four factors:

1) Too much voter apathy among traditional Republicans who assume Hageman will win easily. Harriet’s overall vote total could be lower than expected among traditional Republican voters because of the time of year and the fact it is not a presidential election.

2) Cheney will hold on to a percentage of her traditional voters. Some 75,183 Republicans voted for her in 2018 and 78,870 voted for her in 2020. The power of incumbency will come into play.

3) And of course, there are the so-called RINO’s. These are long-time registered “Republicans In Name Only” who are naturally moderate or who dislike former president Donald Trump. They will vote for Cheney in this proxy battle between Cheney and Trump.

4) And the big one will be the numbers of cross-over voters from Democrat and Independent ranks to vote in the Republican primary. This number will be over 20,000, which is huge when you figure the winner in this race will barely get 60,000 votes.

Predicting Hageman win is easy way out

For months, I have been ready to predict a Hageman win by at least 10,000 votes. That result still makes the most sense to me. But, after crunching the numbers, up comes a much tighter outcome.

Despite world-wide interest, voting totals will be up a little from 2018 when 116,000 voters went to the polls and from 2020 when 110,000 voted.

Personally, I am inclined to vote for Hageman because it is easy to get tired of all the anti-Trump drama created by Cheney. It might be nice to have a representative who just does her job working for us and is not pushing a national agenda.

Because this is the most unusual primary election in America, the vote total should be high, but it won’t be that much higher than normal. Here is my prediction for the results of the GOP U. S. Representative race, which will be much closer than expected. In fact, it looks like a dead heat.

With perspiration dripping off the end of my nose, I earlier wrote two drafts of this column predicting a narrow win by Cheney. Wow, what a story that would be. But, alas, it will be close but Hageman should win.

I want to give some big-time credit to the Cheney campaign for their resourcefulness. Some of the strategies and tactics used, especially here at the end of the campaign, will be studied for years. My prediction:

Harriet Hageman – 60,358

Liz Cheney – 60,258

A. Bouchard – 6,233

D. Knapp – 1,765

R. Belinskey – 1,234

Total votes will be 129,848

New York Times Political writer Jonathan Martin has been traveling around Wyoming. He recently wrote about Liz Cheney: “The 56-year-old daughter of a politician has become arguably the most consequential rank-and-file member of Congress in modern times. Few others have so aggressively used the levers of the office to seek to reroute the course of American politics — but, in doing so, she has effectively sacrificed her own future in the institution she grew up to revere.”

This was written under the headline: “Liz Cheney is ready to lose. But she is not ready to quit.”

Covering this U. S. House race has been incredibly interesting. It has been a campaign unlike any I have seen in a half century of covering Wyoming elections. But it has to end sometime.

Two other close races

Let’s look at two other heavily contested races:

I was telling Secretary of State Candidate Tara Nethercott recently that I liked her opponent Chuck Gray. She seemed shocked by this. “I like everyone,” I told her. Gray has worked hard as has Tara. And I like Tara, too.

However, I am inclined to vote for Nethercott. The Secretary of State’s office has been superb all these years. It does not need to be fixed, which is the cornerstone of Gray’s campaign.

Gray’s name recognition may give him the win, however, here is my prediction.

Secretary of State:

Tara Nethercott 61,924

Chuck Gray 60,555

Is it time to upset the status quo of the State Superintendent of Schools office? Perhaps it is time. I am inclined to vote for Brian Schroeder although Megan Degenfelder has run a superb campaign. Here is my prediction for that office:

Supt. of Schools:

Brian Schroeder 59,432

Megan Degenfelder 58,187

Politics is fun to watch and pretty enjoyable most of the time. The primary of 2022 in Wyoming has been a doozy. It is one for the ages.

Please vote and accept the results next Tuesday.

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