GOP Presidential Candidate Evan McMullin Capitalizes On Trump's Loss
With the Republican Party in turmoil over controversies surrounding Donald Trump, many Utahns are suddenly undecided about who they will support for President. That's giving alternative candidate Evan McMullin a big boost.
Early on in the election, Provo resident Brian Zundel thought Donald Trump would be a good fit for president.
"Initially I thought he would be a good candidate in terms of bringing an outside perspective into Washington," Zundel said.
Zundel is Mormon and he's always voted for Republicans. But that changed with the tone of this election, culminating in a video that was leaked showing Donald Trump making lewd comments about women. Zundel says he won't support Trump and he can't support Hillary Clinton.
Zundel is one voter backing McMullin, also Mormon and from Utah. He is running as a last-minute alternative for Republican voters. McMullin joined the race in August, deciding that both major candidates aren't fit to be president.
With support for Trump collapsing in Utah, polling data released on Wednesday shows Clinton and Trump tied with support at just 26 percent. McMullin has surged up to 22 percent.
"The change has been remarkable. Basically, what we see online is probably a four or five-fold increase in the amount of people engaging with us," McMullin said.
Tim Chambless is an Associate Professor at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute for Politics. He says support for McMullin could jump even further if he gets and endorsement from a prominent undecided Utah politician, like Mitt Romney.
"Then, you would see, I think, a seismic shift of 15-20 percent of votes that right now are soft," Chambless said.
McMullin has almost no chance to sway the election on a national level, but it's possible he could take one or more of Utah's six electoral votes. It's likely he will continue to attract voters like Brian Zundel who feel that they should vote their conscience over their party nominee.