New poll indicates a Liz Cheney presidential run would hurt Biden more than Trump

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Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., has vowed to do “whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office” — including possibly embarking on a White House bid of her own.

“It is something that I am thinking about,” Cheney said last week.

Yet a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that if Cheney were to run for president as an independent in 2024, she could actually do the opposite.

She could single-handedly swing the election to Trump.

Liz Cheney stands before a grassy field and distant hill.

Rep. Liz Cheney arrives to speak after losing to her opponent Harriet Hageman in the Republican primary election during an event held at the Mead Ranch on Aug. 16 in Jackson Hole, Wyo. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The survey of 1,563 U.S. adults was conducted from Aug. 18 to 22 — immediately after Cheney lost last Tuesday’s Wyoming House primary to a Trump-backed challenger by nearly 40 percentage points.

It found that if the 2024 election were held today — and if it were a one-on-one rematch between President Biden and Trump — Biden would lead by 4 points among registered voters, 46% to 42%.

But in a three-way race with Cheney on the ballot as an independent, Trump would suddenly vault to an 8-point lead over Biden, 40% to 32%.

In that scenario, Cheney trails with just 11% of the vote. The problem for Biden is that nearly all of Cheney’s votes come at his expense — and there are enough of them, in theory, to put Trump over the top.

It’s far too early to peg Cheney as a spoiler. It’s unclear, for instance, whether she will even run — or if so, whether she would go so far as to compete in the general election as an independent candidate. Cheney could decide to campaign against Trump in the Republican primary; then she could drop out and either stay on the sidelines or endorse the Democratic nominee.

We also, of course, don’t know what the national political environment will look like in 2024, or whether Biden and Trump choose to run again.

But the new Yahoo News/YouGov poll suggests that if Cheney does throw her hat into the proverbial ring, she is much more likely to help Trump win than lose.

Why? Because right now, Biden voters are much more likely than Trump voters to say they’d be willing to break ranks and vote for her instead.

Daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, the congresswoman was stripped of her GOP leadership position after voting to impeach Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. She went on to become the top Republican on the House select committee investigating Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Next on Cheney’s to-do list is a leadership PAC called “The Great Task” that will be “very focused on working to ensure that we do everything we can not to elect election deniers,” as Cheney told ABC Sunday.

Needless to say, Cheney’s outspoken opposition to Trump has not endeared her to rank-and-file Republicans (who mostly still support the former president). Just 18% of them now hold a favorable opinion of her, according to the poll. A full 61% view Cheney unfavorably.

Donald Trump, holding up his right fist, is flanked by a few men in suits in front of a crowd of onlookers.

Donald Trump departs Trump Tower two days after FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago Palm Beach home, in New York City on Aug. 10. (David ‘Dee’ Delgado/Reuters)

The opposite is true, however, among Democrats. Nearly 6 in 10 (59%) now rate Cheney favorably, while just 18% express an unfavorable opinion — remarkable numbers for a lifelong Republican who was best-known, until recently, for her staunch social conservatism and hawkish foreign-policy views.

As a result, Democrats are surprisingly supportive of a Cheney presidential bid, with roughly equal numbers saying yes (30%) and no (33%) when asked if she should run in 2024. Republicans are against the idea by an overwhelming 70%-to-10% margin.

And among those who voted for Biden and Trump in 2020, the gap is even wider: 78% of Trump voters oppose a Cheney bid, while more Biden voters favor (35%) than oppose (31%) it.

Yet Biden supporters should probably be careful what they wish for. In a hypothetical three-way GOP primary contest, just 6% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they would support Cheney.

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.

President Biden sits at a small desk bearing a presidential seal while Sen. Joe Manchin, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Rep. James Clyburn, Rep. Frank Pallone and Rep. Kathy Castor stand behind him, appearing to applaud.

President Biden, seated, signs the Democrats’ landmark climate change and health care bill in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Aug. 16, as Sen. Joe Manchin, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Rep. James Clyburn, Rep. Frank Pallone and Rep. Kathy Castor applaud. (Susan Walsh/AP)

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%.

Meanwhile, Trump’s numbers barely budge, declining just 5 points among Republican voters (to 82%) and just 1 point among independent voters (to 45%). That explains how a 4-point Biden lead (without Cheney on the ballot) becomes an 8-point Trump lead (with Cheney on the ballot).

Put another way, a full 69% of Cheney’s support among registered voters comes from those who would otherwise support Biden on a two-way ballot. Just 15% comes from Trump supporters. (Another 16% comes from those who were unsure.)

Still, Democrats are not Cheney’s most supportive subgroup. That honor goes to viewers of CNN — 38% of whom say she should run in 2024 and 19% of whom say they would vote for her.

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The Yahoo News survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,563 U.S. adults interviewed online from Aug. 18 to Aug. 22, 2022. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2020 presidential vote (or nonvote) and voter registration status. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all U.S. adults. The margin of error is approximately 2.6%.

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