(CNN)Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney raised almost $2 million in just the last three months, the most she has ever raised in a single quarter, according to her office.
Which, you might think, is a sign of her strength in advance of what is expected to be a massive primary fight to hold her House seat in overwhelmingly Republican Wyoming next year.You would think wrong. Here’s why, in three easy steps.1. Fundraising usually is a sign of support within a community, district or state. If people are willing to give to your campaign, it’s, quite literally, an investment in you. Which tends to bode well for your chances of winning their votes. Except that Cheney’s office isn’t saying how much of her massive fundraising haul actually came from people in Wyoming and how much was from people outside the state who sent her cash to support her vote to impeach then-President Donald Trump. My strong sense is that Cheney’s report will show that the bulk of her donations came from out of state — and from people who aren’t Republicans.
THE POINT — NOW ON YOUTUBE!
In each episode of his weekly YouTube show, Chris Cillizza will delve a little deeper into the surreal world of politics. Click to subscribe!
2. Money isn’t going to win the primary. It doesn’t cost much to buy statewide TV advertising in Wyoming. Which means that Cheney’s opponents — particular those already in the state House or state Senate — will likely be able to raise enough money to make sure voters know who they are running against and why. Yes, Cheney will have more ads, but the law of diminishing returns very much holds here.Read More3. The voter universe is very small. When Gov. Mark Gordon won the hotly contested 2018 gubernatorial primary, he did so by securing 38,951 votes. Which is not a lot of votes! While Wyoming is strongly Republican, it’s is also a tiny state in terms of population. (It is the least populated state in America.) Such a small universe of primary voters means that money is less influential — or determinative.Now. None of the above means that Cheney is destined to lose. While pro-Trump Republicans — including Trump himself — will make beating her a major priority, the anti-Cheney vote seems likely to be divided, with candidates falling all over one another to run.Given that, and the strength of the Cheney name in Wyoming, she has, to my mind, a better than even-odds shot at winning a third term.But money won’t win it for her. No matter how much she raises.The Point: It’s a bit of a rarity to see a race where money isn’t determinative. But Cheney’s primary is definitely one.