The viability of a McMullin candidacy hinges on a few basic assumptions.
1. You can’t beat Lee for the Republican nomination.
In my years covering politics, I’ve come to know Lee’s two leading Republican challengers, Becky Edwards and Ally Isom. Both are smart and qualified. And, I’m really sorry to say this, but neither can overcome the Trump wing of the Utah Republican Party to win the nomination.
That’s particularly true as long as both are in the field splitting the Not-Mike-Lee vote. Even if one of them dropped out of the race, it is very, very likely that the candidate remaining will lose to Lee.
2. Lee’s support is soft outside the core of his own party.
A poll in August by OH Predictive Insights found that less than half of Utahns statewide support the work Lee is doing in Washington. That includes two-thirds of Republicans.
But there are also one out of five Republicans who don’t back Lee, as well as nearly seven out of 10 Democrats, and a plurality of independents.