The results of a new poll paid for by a super PAC supporting Wyoming U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi weren’t surprising.
Pollster Bob Wickers reported that of 400 likely 2014 Republican primary voters, 69 percent supported Enzi over Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney who is trying to oust the three-term incumbent.
The results showed Cheney only had 17 percent of support from those polled.
Wickers has long-standing ties to Wyoming. He worked for state Treasurer Mark Gordon’s 2008 congressional campaign and state legislator Colin Simpson’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
The Cheney camp called it a phony poll conducted by a “well-known pay-for-say” group.
Wickers did not respond to Star-Tribune emails asking for details about the poll.
American Principles Fund, a super PAC run by the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, paid for the polls. The poll results come weeks after the pro-Enzi PAC ran a string of politically-charged ads in Wyoming that took creative license with clips of Cheney talking about gay marriage on MSNBC.
Polls conducted by Wickers haven’t been the most reliable barometer of elections in the past, said Brittany Wells, Cheney for Wyoming spokeswoman.
Wickers’ firm conducted a poll that had Republican Senate candidate David Dewhurst leading now-Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, 51 to 16 a few weeks prior to election day in 2012.
“Considering that history,” Wells said, “we feel very good about the chances of seeing Liz Cheney elected to the U.S. Senate next year.”
Even though the funding for the polls signifies close ties to the Enzi camp, the senator’s supporters aren’t doubtful about the results.
The same pollster had Enzi up on Cheney 61 percent to 21 percent in August — weeks before American Principles Fund got involved in the election.
“I don’t really know the pollster all that well, but even if he’s off by 25 points, Mike Enzi would still be ahead by 27,” said Bill Cubin, co-founder of Wyoming’s Own, a super PAC supporting Enzi. “There’s still a lot of time, and a lot can happen, but I’m starting to smell a blowout.”
Enzi's campaign team, which is independent of the American Principles Fund and the pollster, said the senator has worked hard to gain the trust of Wyomingites.
"Mike remains as committed as always to doing his job well -- fighting to stop Obamacare and the war on coal and working to keep the federal government out of the lives of Wyoming citizens," said Enzi for Wyoming spokeswoman Kristin Walker.
A poll conducted independently of the American Principles Fund was released in the weeks after the race began in July. Enzi had a 34 percent lead over Cheney with 55 percent of likely Republican primary voters choosing him and 21 percent supporting Cheney in a poll of 422 likely Republican primary voters done by Conservative Intel.
A pollster’s record of accuracy is the most important thing, said Andrew Garner, assistant professor in the political science department at the University of Wyoming.
Garner was skeptical when he heard Enzi jumped 12 points in the polls since August.
Pollsters have no incentive to cook the books, he said.
“They make a lot of money conducting polls on a reputation of accuracy,” he said. “Any time they do anything that would question their accuracy or objectivity of their polling methods would be disastrous.”