McMullin Leads in Utah for the First Time

By Steven Klett, Epoch Times
October 21, 2016 10:13 pm Last Updated: October 21, 2016 10:13 pm

Independent Presidential Candidate Evan McMullin is leading in a poll for the first time in the state of Utah. 

A Utah native, McMullin leads Republican Donald Trump by four percent and Democrat Hillary Clinton by seven percent—31 percent for McMullin, 27 percent for Trump and 24 percent for Clinton. 

The state of Utah is typically a Republican stronghold and has voted Republican since 1964, when the state went for Lyndon B. Johnson.

It also has the highest population of Mormons in the country—62 percent of the population in Utah identifies as members of the Church of Latter Day Saints or Mormons—and winning the state depends on winning over the typically conservative bloc. 

McMullin is a former CIA counterterrorism operative and Chief Policy Director for the House Republican Conference in the U.S. House of Representatives, and started his campaign in August.

As a result of his late entry, the Independent candidate is only eligible in 11 states. 

He identifies as a Mormon and his pitch to the American people is as a principled conservative alternative to Clinton and Trump, which has put him into play for the state of Utah. 

“It’s not a Republican state. It’s a conservative state. That’s true for a lot of the Mountain West and I think our message resonates well there,” McMullin told FoxNews.com.

In 2008, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won the state 62 percent to 34 percent, and in 2012, Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) won the state 72 percent to 24 percent.

However, the state also has a history of voting heavily for third party candidates. Independent Ross Perot beat Bill Clinton in 1992—27 percent to 24 percent—though George H.W. Bush won the state with 43 percent of the vote.  

A victory for McMullin in Utah would mean he is the first third party candidate to win a state since 1968 when American Independent George Wallace won a handful of states in the South. 

The last time that a candidate ran a principled third-party campaign and won only their home state was in 1924 when Robert M. La Follette Sr. ran as a Progressive candidate and won in the state of Wisconsin, getting 17 percent of the popular vote.

Unlike La Follette, who was Governor and Senator of Wisconsin before the 1924 election, McMullin is virtually unknown outside of Utah, and his campaign has been subsumed by Trump and Clinton. 

However, just like La Follette, who ran on an insurgent progressive platform against Republican President Calvin Coolidge and Democratic challenger John W. Smith, McMullin is running as a principled conservative, and hopes to change the conservative movement. 

“This opportunity is a new conservative movement that will address liberty and equality, attracting all different kinds of races and religions,” he said on Fox News. “If we didn’t take a stand now, then we wouldn’t have the legitimacy to fundamentally change the conservative movement.”