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House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy with Trump in 2019. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former Republican pollster Frank Luntz tells Kara Swisher on her New York Times podcast "Sway" that Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 election "could cost the Republicans the majority in the House in 2022."

Why it matters: The former president is still the most popular figure in the Republican Party, but his baseless claims about the election have alienated moderates and key GOP leaders — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).

Key exchange:

  • Luntz: "More than two-thirds of Republicans believe that the election was stolen."
  • Swisher: "So it's working. This 'Big Lie' thing is working."
  • Luntz: "It is working. ... What Donald Trump is saying is actually telling people it's not worth it to vote. Donald Trump single-handedly may cause people not to vote. And he may be the greatest tool in the Democrats' arsenal to keep control of the House and Senate in 2022."

The big picture: "If Donald Trump runs for president as a Republican, he's the odds-on favorite to win the nomination," Luntz added. "He could never win a general election, but I can't imagine losing a Republican primary. ... I would bet on him to be the nominee and I would bet on him losing to whatever Democratic nominee there was."

Go deeper

Liz Cheney: GOP is "at a turning point"

Photo: Melina Mara-Pool via Getty Images

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) doubled down on her break from former President Trump in an op-ed for the Washington Post on Wednesday, warning the Republican Party must decide whether it's going to "choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution."

Why it matters: The editorial is her most extensive comment since leadership turned on her. Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, has continued to speak out against Trump since her vote to impeach him for inciting the Capitol riots, much to the aggravation of some GOP leaders who now look to oust her.

McConnell says he's "100%" focused on stopping Biden admin

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in April. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Wednesday he's "100%" focused on "stopping" the Biden administration.

Why it matters: McConnell's comments come as President Biden seeks to push through his administration's nearly $4 trillion infrastructure plan. Biden is due to host his first bipartisan meeting with Republican leaders including McConnell next week.

May 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Liz Cheney's long game

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) is all but rolling out the red carpet for her own ouster as House GOP conference chair next week and her expected replacement with Trump defender Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).

Why it matters: Cheney’s political falling out with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is the ultimate proxy war between Republicans who remain beholden to a former president who falsely claims the election was stolen from him, or breaking free from Donald Trump to refocus on traditional conservative values.