Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn have fought back against a wave of anti-Mormon and personal smears from the Trump camp in Utah.
It now seems the conservative ticket may win the state as a final poll offers them huge momentum – amid signs young families and Mormon voters are organizing drives to the polls and getting out the vote.
A week of solid personal campaigning has brought the independent conservatives to the brink of victory in McMullin’s home state. After several polls showing Trump gaining improbably long leads over McMullin-Finn, the popular Deseret News paper closes with a YUGE poll for conservatives in the Beehive State. Trump has 33%, McMullin 28% and Clinton 24%.
That in and of itself would be enough to give McMullin’s team confidence going in to the election day. Enthusiasm for the CIA field agent and Mormon missionary and his Jewish running mate, wife, mom and Republican operative Mindy Finn, is high, while Utah’s socially conservative and kind electorate fundamentally disapproves of both Trump and Clinton.
No poll has ever shown either Trump or Clinton with an favorable rating in Utah – and no poll has ever shown Evan McMullin with an unfavorable one.
It is highly likely that some Trump and Clinton partisans will stay home – and smart Clinton voters, knowing she can’t win Utah, may well take delight in voting for McMullin – both to stop Trump receiving 6 Electoral College votes in a tight race, and knowing that if Evan McMullin wins he will have a strong chance to beat Jason Chaffetz in the primary for Senator – Chaffetz being the man that leaked news of James Comey’s FBI letter to the press after re-endorsing Donald Trump.
For Democrats in Utah, there is a unique opportunity to help their Presidential candidate AND take revenge on the Utah flip-flopper Chaffetz who used a partisan FBI to attack her candidacy.
For conservatives, too, though, there was the sense that voting for McMullin would send a message to the GOP that in future they must nominate socially conservative people who respect religious freedom and don’t insult Mormons – as well as Muslims and women.
The internals of the poll are even better for McMullin-Finn that the toppling suggests. Despite the headlines, 24% of Utahns say they don’t know or might change their vote. That is massive. And younger Mormons, whom McMullin and Finn have been targeting with a college tour, are overwhelmingly enthusiastic for the pair.
Heat Street’s earlier poll showing a sharp drop for McMullin and rise for Trump seemed so unlikely we asked our polling partners to check their data. They stood by those numbers, but the cross tabs revealed a vastly older sample size. This may well have skewed the poll for Trump and against McMullin, since, as the Deseret News notes:
Monson said he believes his results reflect Utah’s young voters, who make up almost 30 percent of the electorate.
The difference between his poll results and those released Thursday showing McMullin trailing in third place, he said, is that age is a “strong predictor of the vote in Utah,” the youngest state in the nation with a median age below 31.
“The younger voters, millennials in particular, are much more adverse to Trump, and these are the very voters that are the hardest to get to answer their phones and take the survey,” he said.
Sutherland Institute President Boyd Matheson said the polls findings that a quarter of voters are still persuadable at this point in the race is “really significant. I think that bodes well for McMullin.”
Of particular note is that Trump supporters in the media and online both mocked Governor Mitt Romney, who has given his tacit support to McMullin by allowing the young ex-CIA officer to fund-raise off his list, and called LDS the “Mormon Mafia,”, and in another case demanded a “Mormoncaust” and “genocide of Mormons” if they did not vote Trump.
The Deseret News Poll found that Utah’s high number of Mormon voters were particularly willing to vote their consciences with McMullin and scorn Donald Trump. The more active a respondent’s Mormon faith, the less likely they were to vote for the GOP nominee, who showed little interest in the state of Utah, speaking of McMullin’s “coffee shop tour” when Mormons don’t drink coffee and calling Mitt Romney a loser. Trump has also supported partial-birth abortion, and boasted he could “Grab [women] by the p*ssy” and do anything to them because he was famous and rich.
A spokeswoman for the McMullin-Finn campaign said they welcomed the poll, which matched their experience on the ground.
We’re just not seeing any love for Trump or Clinton. Utah conservatives want to send a message, and some Democrats are willing to vote tactically to stop Trump. Crucially we believe that young people and young families are organizing and mobilizing to get each other out to the polls on election day. It’s really such a grassroots, family campaign in Utah. It’s a quiet, friendly, conservative revolt against two big establishment candidates.
She added that voters already knew that it was impossible for McMullin to hand the Presidency to Hillary Clinton, as Utah’s six votes could only take the election to a Republican-controlled House. ‘When Mike Pence says ‘come home,’ that’s what Utah Republicans are doing when they vote for Evan McMullin – they are coming home to religious freedom and traditional GOP values.’