The mainstream media engineers a perfectly-timed October Surprise designed, as always, to destroy the GOP presidential candidate. Prominent Mormon Republicans respond to TapeGate by swooning onto their fainting couches and unendorsing Donald Trump. The D-News pens an unprecedented editorial calling on Trump to drop out. A few days later the Trib (predictably) endorses the absolutely corrupt Hillary Clinton. And on Tuesday a new poll emerges showing Clinton pulling into a statistical tie with Trump in America’s reddest state, thanks to surging Mormon support for fourth-party candidate (and Clinton stalking horse) Evan McMullin.
Utah was the obvious play for McMullin since the beginning given his roots there and his Mormon faith. Right now, as noted above, his major problem there is that he’s still not that well known. If prominent Mormon Republicans, starting with Romney, begin endorsing him, that’ll change quickly. It might change even if they don’t, in fact: The buzz in Utah around this poll will help convince some reluctant Trump voters that they wouldn’t be throwing their vote away on a candidate who can’t possibly win the state if they back McMullin. And the more Trump’s polls tank nationally, the less there is to lose for loyal Utah Republicans by voting their conscience. It’s one thing to blow a vote on the fourth-party candidate when you’re worried that the national election will be close and a McMullin upset in Utah would hand the presidency to Clinton. It’s another thing to cast that vote believing that the outcome of the election is already a fait accompli. If Utahns hate Trump and the result in their state doesn’t matter anymore, why not vote for the guy they actually like instead?
Incidentally, Team Clinton’s internal polling must also be showing a Trump trainwreck in Utah or else she wouldn’t have bothered rolling out that “Mormons for Hillary” ad yesterday. She’s fighting a losing battle, though, I think. The Deseret News poll linked up top shows her unfavorable rating in the state at around 70 percent, about as bad as Trump’s is. Of the three unlikely outcomes in Utah now in play — Trump recovers and holds the state, McMullin surges past him among Republicans and wins, and Trump and McMullin split evenly and Clinton somehow nudges past them to win — number three seems the least likely, as only McMullin has upward momentum. But who knows? The Salt Lake Tribune endorsed her today, and the fact that the state is in play might boost morale among Utah Democrats who wouldn’t have bothered to vote otherwise but now see an opportunity for an upset. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that Trump finishes third. In Utah.