But perhaps Trump’s greatest trick might be making many Democrats admire a Cheney.
In recent weeks, plenty of ink has been spilled about the Republican Party’s divergent responses to Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the third-ranking Republican in the House who voted to impeach Trump, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), avid purveyor of misinformation. Both wound up avoiding sanction by their party, with Republicans declining to remove Cheney from her leadership role and Greene from her committees.
That’s a bit of a false comparison — both because of the secret vote involved in the Cheney decision (which provided lawmakers more latitude) and the differences between removing someone from a high-ranking GOP leadership position and from slots on committees. The Post’s Philip Bump has also written about how the two of them have effectively become stand-ins for the broader culture war. Perhaps the GOP’s defense of Greene is less about the baseless claims she has espoused as it is about a desire to combat “cancel culture.”
But as notable in all of it is how many Democrats have warmed to Cheney. This is the daughter of one of the more reviled GOP figures among Democrats in recent decades. No, she shouldn’t be judged by the politics of her father, former vice president Richard B. Cheney, but you’d expect that among Democrats (or at least enough of them who remember the Bush-Cheney presidency) she would.
Recent polls suggest Democrats are quite happy with her, though. While Greene has middling numbers even among fellow Republicans, Cheney has very positive numbers among Democrats. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday finds 46 percent approving of her and just 9 percent disapproving. Previous polls from the Economist-YouGov and Axios-SurveyMonkey were less positive, but with Democrats still around 2 to 1 in her favor — 44 to 26 in the former and 46 to 16 in the latter.
That’s a marked contrast to what we saw among from Democrats with her father. Polls throughout Bush’s presidency found he was even more unpopular overall and even more reviled among Democrats than the then-president. Plenty believed he was the true force behind the decisions with which they disagreed. By the end of Bush’s presidency, Richard B. Cheney’s favorable rating among Democrats was 9 percent, according to Gallup. Overall, he was at 26 percent.
To Bump’s point, this is almost undoubtedly much more about Liz Cheney standing up to Trump and serving as perhaps the most significant vote to impeach him (among one of the most pro-Trump constituencies of any House Republican) as it is about any of her actual policies, with which the vast majority of Democrats undoubtedly disagree.
But it’s also a significant window into the two parties as they exist now. Republicans are about evenly split when it comes to defending a politician who has espoused some of the ugliest and most debunked misinformation in modern politics, while turning much more negative on a politician who voted to impeach Trump. Democrats, meanwhile, are yet again willing to believe the best about the opposite party’s politician — someone whose family they have in the past despised — who takes a thoroughly inconvenient stand (for her) about an issue on which they care deeply.
Neither politician has much to worry about beyond her GOP primary. But one has clung to the base in an extreme way while the other has done something rather extreme in her own right, given the circumstances. The latter is being rewarded more broadly, but the former has a better chance of sticking around.