For nearly a month, the great state of Utah has received something it receives very little of in presidential elections — attention.
And for very good reason. The reliably Republican state does not look as ruby red as it normally does. Not only does the GOP nominee’s character not agree with the largely Mormon electorate in the state, but the entry of an Independent candidate who is a native son has created a perfect storm.
Evan McMullin is from Utah, a Mormon, and does not come with any of Trump’s moral baggage. And he has been providing a viable alternative for Utah voters who just cannot bring themselves to vote for Trump. He has been polling well into the 20 percent range in all of the public polls drawing votes almost exclusively from the Republican nominee.
The beneficiary is not just McMullin but the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton who has been at times tied with Trump in the polls, something that is normally unheard of for a Democratic nominee.
As the race is settling in, and with the late bombshell dropped on Clinton by FBI Director James Comey just eleven days before election day, Trump has managed to open up a bit of a win. In the latest Monmouth University survey released Thursday, Trump now leads the four way race with 37 percent support from likely voters, but following him well within striking distance is Hillary Clinton at 31 percent. McMullin is receiving 24 percent of the vote with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 4 percent.
“It’s been nearly 50 years since a third party candidate won any state’s electoral votes. That streak should remain intact,” said Monmouth pollster Patrick Murray. “While McMullin has cut into Trump’s partisan support, the independent candidate has not broken out of third place.”
At the same time, Trump only has the support of 56 percent of Republicans in Utah, with McMullin receiving 34 percent. And Trump also leads McMullin in the Mormon vote 43 to 37.
While McMullin may not ultimately win, the Trump campaign has been devoting a fair amount of attention attacking him. That may be just Trump being Trump, or it may signify that the campaign’s internal numbers are causing real worries. Clearly, Trump can ill afford to have any of his support soften.
Either way, this presents an opportunity for Clinton. If Trump is not victorious in Utah, there is virtually no possibility for him to actually win the presidency.