Donald Trump is not having a good weekend. He’s openly panicking about the surge of Evan McMullin in Utah.
Trump, a former booster of partial-birth abortion who has called STDs “my personal Vietnam,” ranted on Fox that he was losing Utah to McMullin – whom he’d never heard of.
In a massively viral tweet, the conservative fired back:
— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) October 30, 2016
If, as seems likely, McMullin takes Utah’s 6 electoral votes, the GOP-controlled House will have a third option – voting in McMullin as President if neither Hillary nor Trump get to 270.
With massive opposition research dumps expected on both nominees before the election, this Hail Mary scenario has got a lot more probable.
Trump tried hard to avoid saying the name of ‘McMullin’ but he was happy to reveal his panic:
“He’s going from coffee shop to coffee shop. It’s a full-time thing. He can’t do anything, but he hurts us in Utah…I know the people of Utah. If they go enough for this character that’s running all over the state ….we lose the state of Utah”
Mormons across America, including Buzzfeed reporter McKay Coppins, pointed out that Donald Trump evidently didn’t know that much about the state and its people, as Mormons don’t drink coffee.
The funniest thing about Trump's attack here is his claim that @Evan_McMullin is "going from coffee shop to coffee shop" to win Utah.
— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) October 30, 2016
The attack by Trump that Evan McMullin is a ‘puppet’ of Bill Kristol is also unfortunate wording in the state of Utah. Earlier in the week, Trump media surrogate Lou Dobbs, of Fox Business, made a series of remarks that smacked of both antisemitism and blatant anti-Mormonism, using the word “puppet” and applying it to Mitt Romney. After this, the #MormonMafia hashtag trended on Twitter.
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) October 23, 2016
But Dobbs didn’t just insult “the Utah gang” and Mormons on Trump’s behalf once – it was part of a pattern:
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) September 10, 2016
Governor Mitt Romney is widely admired in the state. He has allowed Evan McMullin to raise funds with his email list and refused to endorse Trump. “McMullin is just another Romney minion, as is probably much of the state of Utah,” tweeted Dobbs, adding “Trump Pence 16” and “Make America Great Again.”
— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) August 19, 2016
This line of attack is unlikely to work in Utah. The most recent poll in the state has Trump on 32% and McMullin on 30% with a 3% margin of error, making it a statistical tie. Hillary Clinton is behind on 24%, and her voters may switch to McMullin to stop Trump in the electoral college.
It is mathematically impossible for McMullin’s win in Utah to help Clinton – the most he could do would be to allow a GOP controlled Congress to pick the President.
The Trump attacks on McMullin provoked a storm of press coverage that will probably not reflect in polls until the end of the week. The Salt Lake Tribune called the candidate “Utah’s Evan McMullin,” and reminded its readers of the Lou Dobbs “puppet” attack echoing Trump’s:
The independent, who is Mormon, a former CIA operative and a former congressional staffer, gained support quickly after the “Access Hollywood” tape from 2005 emerged in early October showing Trump boasting that he could kiss and grope women without asking because he’s a star.
Heat Street was one of the first outlets to cover Evan McMullin and to acknowledge that he could take Utah’s six Electoral votes. This would be the first time since the sixties an independent has taken Electoral College votes.