You’re asking yourself “who cares?” and I have no good answer except that we need some suspense on election night and Utah might be our best shot.
Yesterday’s UT poll had the race dead even at 26 between Trump and Clinton with McMullin right behind them at 22 percent, within the margin of error. Today’s new one sees Trump hanging on for now but also confirms the surge for the dark horse. A key disparity between the two polls is how many Utahns are aware of McMullin’s candidacy enough to form an opinion. In yesterday’s poll, that number was 52 percent. In Monmouth, it’s just 34 percent — and yet he’s still managing 20 percent of the vote. If he can improve his name recognition, there’s no reason to think he won’t crack 30 percent or more.
Note that this poll was conducted almost entirely before the harassment allegations against Trump began blowing up last night. Trump 34, Clinton 28, McMullin 20, Johnson 9:
Self-identified Republicans support Trump over McMullin by a 55% to 26% margin, with 6% supporting Clinton and 5% supporting Johnson. Among independent voters, 29% back Trump, 23% back Clinton, 21% back McMullin, and 16% back Johnson. Nearly all Democrats (92%) support Clinton…
About 6-in-10 Utah voters identify their religious affiliation as Mormon. Among this group, Trump leads McMullin by 38% to 32%, with Clinton at 13% and Johnson at 8%. Among those with another religious affiliation or no religious identity, half back Clinton (50%), with Trump at 29%, Johnson at 9%, and McMullin at 4%…
Only 25% of Utah voters feel Trump has the right temperament to be president while 70% say he does not. They are more evenly divided on Clinton, with 49% saying she has the right temperament and 48% saying she does not…
Nearly 4-in-10 voters (39%) feel what Trump said in [the “Access Hollywood”] tape makes him unfit for office while 50% say his words were inappropriate but not necessarily disqualifying. Seven percent are not familiar with the recording.
At 25/69, Clinton’s atrocious favorable rating is slightly better than Trump’s (19/71) in one of America’s reddest states. Her 28 percent overall share of the vote is Hillary’s best showing in Utah all year, but it also shows you why Trump or McMullin is the likely winner there. This is what she looks like at seemingly high tide, with a lead among non-Mormons of more than 20 points, and she still can’t crack 30 percent in the state. Ironically, it’s also non-Mormons who might end up guaranteeing Trump’s victory: He leads McMullin by 25 points among that group whereas his lead among Mormons has shriveled to six points. It may be that McMullin is too much of an LDS niche candidate even in a state that’s mostly Mormon for him to quite catch up to Trump. But we’ll see. It could also be that he’s much better known to Mormon voters there because of his roots in the church than he is to non-Mormons, in which case he’s trailing among the latter group not because they prefer Trump necessarily but because they simply haven’t paid any attention to McMullin yet.
By the way, FiveThirtyEight’s first model of Utah that includes McMullin came out today. Odds of victory: A cool 3.5 percent and rising. Unrelated exit question: Why did Trump cancel an interview on “Hannity” tonight? He needs to “Hannitize” the groping charges. That’s the logical place.
Update: Team Evan is working hard for endorsements, the missing ingredient in raising his name recognition.
“We’re talking to pretty much all of the key leaders in Utah,” McMullin campaign chief strategist Joel Searby said. “We have had direct communication with every leader in Utah who has either not supported Trump previously or has since unendorsed Trump. Every single one.”
McMullin hasn’t yet been endorsed by any of those elected Utah Republicans, but multiple strategists and operatives in the state said that they could come out in support of the conservative long shot in the coming days.
McMullin himself reportedly called former Romney campaign honcho Stuart Stevens to point him to yesterday’s poll. Romney is “still monitoring McMullin’s progress as a candidate,” according to a GOP source.
Update: Silly but fun from FiveThirtyEight: “How Evan McMullin Could Win Utah And The Presidency.” If McMullin wins the state and Trump comes storming back nationally to take ~260 electoral votes, guaranteeing that Clinton will finish short of 270 as well, the House would get to choose between the three. And … they’d almost certainly choose Trump, because if there’s one thing we’ve learned about congressional Republicans it’s that they’re deathly afraid of pissing off the populists in their base this year.