Two new polls of Utah show Evan McMullin sliding to third place

Scout’s honor: When I wrote a few hours ago that I thought Trump would win Utah by 10 points with 41-42 percent of the vote, I hadn’t seen this Rasmussen poll yet.

A new Heat Street/Rasmussen Reports telephone and online survey of Likely Utah Voters finds Trump with 42% support to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 31%. Republican-turned-Independent candidate Evan McMullin has faded to 21%…

A week ago, it was Trump 47%, McMullin 38% among GOP voters in Utah. The latest survey finds Trump ahead 63% to 27% among Republican voters…

Sixty-one percent (61%) of all Utah voters thought Clinton would win the election in the previous survey. Now 51% feel that way. Thirty-four percent (34%) say Trump will win, while 15% are undecided. Republican voters in the state by a 49% to 34% margin now believe Trump will be the winner.

Note the shift among Republicans. My guess earlier for why McMullin might fade is that Trump’s rise nationally has made Utahns think harder about their vote. Three weeks ago, staring at a national Clinton landslide, a socially conservative Republican there might shrug and conclude that he or she is better off voting for someone whom they like, namely McMullin, than for the guy at the top of the ticket who likes to brag about grabbing p***y. If your vote doesn’t mean much to the national outcome, vote your conscience. If your vote does suddenly mean something, though, then you have to think strategically. Hand Utah to McMullin and you might be depriving Trump of the six electoral votes he needs to crack 270. (Seriously, go look at that map I drew you. It’s possible.) That would mean chaos in the House, trading a certain Republican win for uncertainty. So some anti-Trump Republicans, mindful of the national polls, might have swallowed hard and decided to vote for Trump anyway. And that’s exactly what Rasmussen’s seeing. As Utahns generally and Republicans specifically have begun to doubt Clinton’s victory, Trump’s numbers have risen — especially among GOPers.

Monmouth has the race somewhat tighter but the basics are the same as Rasmussen’s. Trump leads with Clinton second and McMullin a distant third, with Hillary’s low ceiling in the state leaving her little chance of catching Trump.

Self-identified Republicans support Trump over McMullin by a 56% to 34% margin, with 4% supporting Clinton. Among independent voters, 34% support Trump, 32% back Clinton, and 24% support McMullin. Nearly all self-identified Democrats (86%) are voting for Clinton. McMullin gets more support from voters under 50 years old – 30% compared with 33% for Trump and 26% for Clinton – than he does with those age 50 and older – 18% compared with 40% for Trump and 37% for Clinton…

Despite what may happen with Utah’s electoral votes, most Beehive State voters (57%) believe that Clinton will probably be elected president. Only 25% think Trump will emerge victorious. Even if they thought Clinton and Trump were running neck and neck, though, only 11% say they would be likely to change who they are voting for, including about 3-in-10 McMullin supporters (29%). These movable voters would split almost evenly between Trump and Clinton, however, and would not have any significant impact on the state of the race in Utah.

Nearly a third of McMullin supporters are prepared to ditch him if they become convinced the election’s a toss-up. You’re seeing the conditional support for his candidacy again there: Utah’s in play if and only if the public expects a Clinton landslide, freeing more right-wing Utahns to vote their consciences. McMullin doesn’t even lead among Mormons even though he’s Mormon himself, a Utah native, and a BYU grad. He trails Trump narrowly among that group, 43/37, but other polls have showed that it’s “very active” Mormons in particular who favor McMullin, not all LDS members. His candidacy from the beginning seemed to be a wager that between his roots in the faith, his conservatism, his impressive CIA background, and Trump’s deep unpopularity among Mormons, McMullin could win the LDS vote in Utah so overwhelmingly that he’s steal the state from the GOP. It looks like that wager will be lost. If Mitt Romney or Mike Lee had spoken up for him, maybe it would have been different. But then, that’s a chicken-and-egg argument: The reason Romney and Lee didn’t gamble on McMullin is probably because they were never confident he could win the state in the first place.

By the way, the Rasmussen poll is the first time all year that Trump’s cracked 40 percent in a survey of Utah. It’s November 3rd. He’s the Republican nominee for president. Exit question: If Mitt Romney had run as an independent, how would he be polling in Utah right now?