Granted, the poll comes from left-leaning PPP but (a) they called the election correctly last November, (b) their new national poll has Obama’s approval rating in the crapper, and (c) their numbers here are actually slightly more favorable to Cheney than the numbers from Conservative Intelligence Briefing last week.
Cheney starts out at a 54/26 disadvantage in her primary challenge to Enzi. She only has a narrowly positive favorability rating with GOP primary voters at 40/34, while Enzi is quite popular with a 66/24 approval rating. The two actually are pretty close among voters describing themselves as ‘very conservative,’ with Enzi leading just 43/37. But his 68/14 advantage with moderate Republicans and 52/26 edge with ‘somewhat conservative’ ones make it uncompetitive overall…
The only scenario in which Democrats could be competitive for this seat- and it’s very far fetched- is one in which Freudenthal decided to run and then Cheney somehow defeated Enzi in the primary. Freudenthal would actually lead Cheney 45/42 in a hypothetical match, likely due to her under water 33/43 favorability rating with the overall electorate. Cheney would still lead Trauner 49/31.
Even if by some chance Enzi decided to retire, Cheney would be far from the favorite in an open seat Senate contest. Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis, who has a 55/25 approval rating with Republican primary voters, would start out leading her 41/34.
CIB’s poll had Enzi leading 55/21 with a stratospheric net favorable rating of +70. People on Twitter are responding to the new PPP data by pointing out that Rubio began in a deep hole against Crist in 2010 too, which is true. But it’s apples and oranges. For one thing, there was room to run to Crist’s right, a huge advantage in the tea-party summer of 2010; for another, and maybe this is my own perception of Sunshine Charlie shining through, Enzi’s a far more likable incumbent than the slippery, say-anything-to-win Crist. Crist comes off like a personal injury lawyer, Enzi comes off as grandpa. It’s not easy to convince people to toss grandpa out of office because he’s too old. And third, Rubio never had to deal with a problem like this:
Even among Republicans, a plurality think she should be running in Virginia. That’ll change as people see her campaigning around the state, but how dramatic will the change be? Rand Paul’s already been attacking her as a carpetbagger. That accusation’s likely to dog her for the rest of the race.
Of all the numbers listed above, the real headache for Cheney, I think, is that she trails Enzi at the moment even among “very conservative” voters. That’ll change too: Conservative talk radio is firmly in her corner and she’s bound to get some endorsements from other tea-party heroes (maybe Palin?), but I’m guessing she’ll have to win that demographic by at least 25 points in order to neutralize Enzi’s overwhelming support among moderates. Is that plausible, bearing in mind that Enzi will be voting even more conservative than usual in the Senate over the next 15 months to protect his right flank? Probably not, but then I also thought that the Rubio/Crist race would be very close to the bitter end, so that shows how much I know.