Liz Cheney trounced: ‘Black sheep impact’ and GOP partisan identification clarify her decisive defeat after criticizing Trump


Republican Liz Cheney, a three-term member of Congress and the GOP’s main – and lonely – critic of Donald Trump, misplaced her re-election bid on Aug. 16, 2022, to a Trump-supported main challenger, Harriet Hageman.

Cheney had fallen out of favor with Republican voters throughout the nation, who considered her unrelenting sharp criticism of Trump as apostasy. Her fall from favor was dramatically evident within the Wyoming Republican main, the place Hageman took 66% of the vote to Cheney’s 29% share.

It was a shocking reversal of Cheney’s displaying in earlier years.

Within the 2020 common election in Wyoming, Cheney gained practically 70% of the vote, primarily based on her dependable voting document that was in line with the GOP legislative agenda.

In a state the place over 70% of registered voters are Republicans, Cheney ought to have been a shoo-in for reelection within the Wyoming GOP main. However she wasn’t.

Polling carried out 10 days earlier than the election revealed Cheney trailing political newcomer Harriet Hageman by practically 30 factors.

The important thing distinction between then and now’s that Hageman has been endorsed by Donald Trump on account of her embrace of Trump’s “huge lie” that the 2020 election was “rigged.”

In stark distinction, Cheney stays one of many few GOP critics of Trump and serves because the vice chair of the Jan. 6 congressional choose committee investigating the assault on the U.S. Capitol.

She has known as Trump’s election lie “a most cancers that threatens our nice Republic.”

In response, Trump has known as Cheney a “despicable human being” and a RINO, a pejorative acronym for “Republican in identify solely.”

The query then is how may the endorsement of a one-term, twice-impeached and traditionally unpopular former president catapult an unknown candidate into a large win over an efficient incumbent?

Partisan loyalty trumps GOP insurance policies

As I argue in my latest ebook “Sustaining Democracy,” the scenario is just not so perplexing in any case.

To elucidate Cheney’s predicament, it’s necessary to acknowledge that extraordinary excited about how democracy works begins with a mistaken premise.

GOP candidate Harriet Hageman listens to Donald Trump Jr. converse at her rally on June 14, 2022.
Natalie Behring/Getty Pictures

We assume that voters first decide their pursuits after which assist candidates who will greatest advance them. Though it lies on the coronary heart of the idea of consultant democracy, this assumption places issues backwards. In at present’s hyperpartisan America, political pursuits are the product of political allegiances – not the opposite method round.

Partisan identification comes first, coverage preferences path behind.

Such is the case in Wyoming.

Judging from the animosity between the campaigns, it’s cheap to count on stark coverage variations between Cheney and Hageman. However the truth is, their legislative priorities are very a lot alike. Hageman embraces commonplace GOP positions about defending borders, opposing abortion, reducing taxes, upholding the Structure and “placing America first” – as does Cheney.

By extraordinary measures, Hageman and Cheney needs to be allies.

This occurs as a result of partisan affiliation is a matter of life-style quite than concepts.

In the USA, liberals and conservatives systematically favor completely different neighborhoods, stay in several sorts of housing and even reveal completely different tastes in house ornament.

Furthermore, partisan identification is firmly tied to the place one retailers, the meals one eats, the automotive one drives, the tv exhibits one watches, the place one holidays and even the model of espresso one prefers.

Households, colleges, workplaces and locations of worship consequently have all turn into politically homogeneous.

With the citizens successfully segregated into distinctly liberal and conservative methods of life, partisan identification is acquired in the midst of extraordinary social interplay, just like how people turn into followers of the native sports activities groups.

How excessive views develop

The difficulty is that when people inhabit ideologically homogeneous social environments, they turn into more and more susceptible to perception polarization, the phenomenon whereby interactions with like-minded people lead us to undertake extra excessive beliefs and attitudes.

As individuals turn into extra excessive on this method, additionally they undertake intensely unfavourable views of those that don’t share their partisan affiliation. This causes them to band along with partisan allies, fueling the dynamic additional.

Importantly, our polarized selves are additionally extra conformist.

As individuals shift into extra excessive beliefs and attitudes, additionally they demand growing homogeneity amongst their allies. This renders coalitions extra reliant on centralized and hierarchical leaders to set the requirements for genuine group membership.

In flip, the group begins to expel members and thus to shrink.

Poisonous influence on democracy

However that’s not all.

Because the group turns into extra homogeneous, it additionally turns into extra susceptible to the Black Sheep Impact, the tendency for people to dislike lapsed or deviant members of their very own group extra intensely than they dislike members of rival teams. Polarization makes cross-partisan relations poisonous, however it additionally poisons relations amongst allies.

So Cheney’s political destiny is not any puzzle.

Finally, I consider, the distinction between her and Hageman has little to do with legislative priorities or the enterprise of Congress.

A middle-aged man hugs his daughter as they both are smiling while standing near a fireplace.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney hugs his daughter Liz Cheney after she gained the Republican main for the U.S. Congress on Aug. 16, 2016.
David Hume Kennerly by way of GettyImages

The divide, quite, is a matter of loyalty to a partisan identification that has Trump at its middle, and the corresponding have to punish those that refuse to conform together with his needs.

Sarcastically, Cheney’s dedication to uphold the Structure and the rule of regulation might have been her undoing amongst Republican voters.

But the Wyoming main reveals a deeper downside.

Within the U.S. democratic system, members of Congress pledge to faithfully carry out the function set for them within the Structure. That function is to characterize the pursuits of their state constituents in federal policymaking.

As soon as we acknowledge the centrality of partisan identities and the way they’re rooted in life quite than public insurance policies, it turns into clear that a lot standard excited about how democracy works wants revision.

This story is an up to date model of an article that was initially revealed on August 15, 2022.

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