Evan McMullin

Where Hillary Clinton is the Spoiler Candidate

Utah lets third-party fans throw an argument back in the Democrats' faces.


public domain

This weekend Donald Trump denounced Evan McMullin, an independent conservative candidate who's been polling well in Utah. After declaring that McMullin had gathered his overwhelmingly Mormon support by "going from coffee shop to coffee shop" (fact check: Mormons don't drink coffee), Trump declared that "if for some reason we lose Utah, that could have a very devastating impact" on his campaign.

That it could. Trump's been struggling in several swing states; the last thing he needs is to lose a place that's usually the most reliably Republican state around. And FiveThirtyEight currently gives McMullin a better shot at denying him Utah than Hillary Clinton has. He leads her in most of the state's recent polls, and he arguably has a better chance of picking up supporters from her column than vice versa. From the Clintonites' point of view, it would of course be ideal for the Democrat to claim the state's six electors. But if that's not possible, your average Dem would surely rather see McMullin collect them; at least that way they won't help Trump get the 270 electoral votes required to win.

So if you're a Democrat in Utah, who gets your vote? The fellow with a shot at blocking Trump? Or Clinton, the spoiler candidate?

Now if that Democrat asked for my advice, I'd tell him to vote for the person who's closest to his views. But I'm a guy who usually votes third-party. Every four years, I get an earful about how terrible this is, how I'm a foolish idealist who needs to stop letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. (For the record: I don't think any of the candidates I voted for were perfect, and I don't think any of their major-party opponents were good.)

Well, now the shoe's on the other foot. If you're a Utah Democrat who has ever sneered that Libertarians and Greens vote immaturely—if you seriously believe that the grown-up thing to do is to hold your nose and cast your ballot for the lesser evil—then you'll have to think hard about how exactly their actions are different from voting for Hillary Clinton. If there's a serious movement from Utah's Democrats toward McMullin, he'll carry the state. If they stick with Clinton, Trump's chances of getting those six electoral votes are a lot higher.

It's no skin off my nose; I prefer Gary Johnson anyway. But I'll still take a little pleasure in being able to tell a Democrat, "Oh. So you're throwing your vote away."

NEXT: We Can Make Housing More Affordable

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I keep waiting to understand the purpose of that egg mcmuffin…

    1. Oh, I get it, McMullin.

      1. He shall forever from this point on be known as ‘The McMuffin’. That’s what you get for running for office.

        1. Maybe he’s really a MacGuffin. Whose plot is he advancing? Whose tool is he?

          Maybe he’s part of the great clown panic of 2016, a conspirer for and with Ronald McDonald. Buy The McMuffin MacGuffin, available on Kindle in December of 2016!

        2. From what I hear, he could never be confused with McLovin’.

  2. Thanks, Jesse. I busted a gut laughing so hard. Dr. ZG is looking at me like, “Why? Why for you so much laugh at silly little sandvich?”

    So brilliant, it doesn’t even need alt-text…

    1. I accidentally erased the alt-text before, but now it’s back…

  3. Vast right wing conspiracy

    Look at that image, ye gads! The wrath of the ice queen has been kindled!

    1. Hilarious. The only evidence we have of malicious conspiracy so far is O’Keefe’s revelations of dirty (likely illegal) campaigning politicking and emails from the DNC and Hillary’s own campaign.

      As far as we have evidence for, the vast right-wing conspiracy this year is a bunch of people banding together to elect an idiot.

    2. I hope she was yelling in a German accent

      1. And that her finger pistols went off.

      2. Nazi pantsuit?

    3. “We’ve made it very clear that, if they are going to be sending this kind of letter that is only going originally to Republican members of the House, that they need to share whatever facts they claim to have with the American people,” Clinton said on Friday, after initially being blindsided by the FBI’s announcement.”

      Her first claim was that it went only to Republican members of the house, which was not true (she might have been mistaken, but given her penchant for lying, she was probably just lying) so she changes it to ‘only going originally to Republican members of the house’. This is a meaningless statement. Par for the course.

      I marvel at Clintonspeak.

      1. “they need to share whatever facts they claim to have with the American people”

        I’m pretty certain she does not want that happening.

      2. I sometimes think she’s not actually lying, because lying implies knowing it’s a lie, and she just spouts whatever nonsense feels appropriate at that time. I knew a cocaine addict once who was like that — really confusing, trying to figure out why she said some of those things and contradicted herself moments later without even realizing it, and if you called her on it, she just flat denied any difference in what she’d said. Whether it was from the cocaine itself, or the law-related paranoia, or completely independent, I never did figure out.

        At any rate, I think most politicians do know they are lying, as with Hillary’s admitting having opposing private and public positions. But on things like this, I wonder if she even cares what the truth is. I don’t think she is even aware of the difference — the words “truth” and “lie” might as well be in Klingon for all she is aware of them. And that is compatible with having different private and public “positions”, which she also does not see as wrong or duplicitous.

  4. “(For the record: I don’t think any of the candidates I voted for were perfect, and I don’t think any of their major-party opponents were good.)”


  5. “So if you’re a Democrat in Utah, who gets your vote?”

    Homosexuals, caffeine, alcohol, and Satan.

    1. Please…you’re getting many of the H&R commenters excited.

  6. I have to say that I really do hate Mormons. From my interactions with them, they tend to be strangely sanctimonious and quietly judgemental for a cult with polygamy and pedo problems. They rank fairly high on the list of states that I would kick out of the union if I could (my reverse succession plan, if you will).

    1. *secession.

    2. The mainstream Mormons have seen the light on marriage being one man and one woman – it’s the fringe Mormon sects which, like Reason and many of its commenters, have yet to accept that definition.

    3. There’s nothing unusual about hating people who are better than you.

      1. So you are saying that hating Mormons is something to aspire to?

        1. There is currently a major political party who’s message is mostly “thou shalt hate those better than thou.”

    4. Every Mormon I have ever met has been intelligent, hardworking, curious, and unfailingly pleasant and kind. So it makes perfect sense that you would hate them.

      1. Unkind? I once purchased a Mormon a lap dance only to have him spit in my face by refusing it and storm out of the establishment. In my entire life, I have never had such an act of generosity result in such an act of disrespect.

        1. Keerist. I wouldn’t want your lap dance either.

    5. Huh. We had a lot of Mormon friends/acquaintances in Houston. I found them all universally polite, friendly, and unjudgemental. Now that we live in the headquarters of Scientology (East) we’ve run into a couple of people who are either Scientologists or married to them, and they also have yet to try to kidnap my children or convert me. Maybe everyone thinks my soul is beyond saving?

      1. We had a lot of Mormon friends/acquaintances in Houston. I found them all universally polite, friendly, and unjudgemental.

        Having been best friends with a Mormon for decades and attending church with him and his family in various wards on occasion during visits, I can confirm that 1) they are exceedingly polite and non-judgmental with those who aren’t members of the faith, because they’re trying to convey a positive impression given the stereotypes about them, and 2) they can be vicious, backstabbing, backbiting, judgmental little shits towards those who don’t fall in total lockstep with the church party line (ask someone who’s left the church how their own family members treat them afterwards), exact pretty overt social pressure on Mormon families that haven’t pumped out 4-5 kids before they’re 30 years old, and conduct inter-ward rivalries that resemble something out of a middle school.

    6. I’ve spent a lot of time in Utah over the past few years, and Mormons pretty much just want to be left alone.

      . . . unless you’re a biker who hasn’t taken a shower for four days and is broken down on the side of the road. Then they stop to see if they can help. Six different people stopped to see if they could help me over the course of an hour! It was amazing.

      Meanwhile, buying guns there is as easy as can be, you don’t even have helmet laws they’re so into minding their own business, taxes are low, regulation is nothing compared to other states, etc., etc.

      I’d say the only downside is that liquor laws are bad–but I guess they’re the same in Pennsylvania?

      If I could trade the people and the laws in California for all the people and laws in Utah, I’d do it in a heartbeat. From a freedom standpoint, Utah is probably as good or better than most any state in the country–except Alaska and New Hampshire.

      So the people there think they’re morally superior to you?

      So what?

    7. Maybe it’s because you tell them you wish they were diagnosed with nut cancer.

    8. And don’t forget their ongoing animus towards the gays. They may be nice-ish on an individual, personal level, but as a group they have gone out of their way to fuck with others. And now they are trying to play the victim and wondering why people talk all mean about them. Suck it, Mormons, you’re permanently shitlisted.

      1. True, some Mormons viciously refused to walk in the gay pride parade. Others even didn’t vote for gays to get pieces of paper that say their married. It’s truly a dark hellhole in Utah.

  7. I dunno how or why there’s anybody who hasn’t been calling him mcmuffin. The first time I saw his name in print I actually thought that’s what it was for a sec. Very disappointing that it isn’t, but I’ve been trying to do my part.

  8. The clowns were just to distract you from the Krueger.


    1. several men showed up uninvited to the party and “began to cause trouble.”

      One of the people at the party tried to ask the men to leave, and a suspect dressed as Krueger opened fire.

      It’s like these people have never seen a horror movie.

  9. I just read some really thoughtful election analysis wherein the author proclaimed that if you are voting for Donald Trump, or Johnson, or Stein…basically anyone other than Clinton, then they will not engage in political discussions with you. Followed by a 1,000 word screed about how much they aren’t going to talk to you about politics.

    1. I’d imagine this is really more about preserving their self-delusion than anything.

      1. ^This^

        In the past ( I don’t do it anymore ) having discussions with religious people was like this. It always ended with “I cant refute any of your arguments. I agree with every one of them, but I cannot accept where it leads. I refuse to give up my faith.” Then they refused to talk to me about religion anymore.

        Commies are the same way. They don’t have a single sound argument. It is all feels, faith and denial of reality.

        1. This may reflect the specific people you talked to.

          1. Or the pigheadedness of youth (mine and theirs). These days I have little use for self-righteousness. Christianity has done more good for the world than any other philosophy I can think of – gave birth to the enlightenment – and these days isnt much of a threat to liberty.

            Political collectivism, not so much.

            1. Certainly – I’d say Christianity contributed to many of the less head-choppy parts of the Enlightenment.

              Of course, there are still varieties of Christians who think the Good Samaritan should simply have stolen the money he needed to help the wounded traveller, and who are unclear on the concept of loving enemies – or even people one disagrees with.

        2. I had to get to the point about 6 years ago where I accepted that my religious faith was not consistent with my more rational approach to the rest of life. I believe because of faith – it’s not provable through any kind of structured argument.

          1. Amen.

          2. This is true.

            Good on you for honesty. I was a bit fiery in my youth but in my late twenties saw the error of my ways.

          3. I would say faith and reason aren’t the same but they point in the same direction while doing different kinds of work – but there you go.

            1. What some people can’t grasp is that there are plenty of religious people who – at least on certain key issues – believe faith and reason teach the same lesson.

              For instance, there’s a lot of religious teaching about keeping it in your pants until marriage and staying faithful to one’s spouse – to hear the secularists tell it, this is contrary to reason, because reason shows that boinking everything that moves is awesome and has no bad consequences.

              Whereas many religious people who think God has told them to observe sexual morality also think that evidence, gathered and analyzed via reason independent of revelation, shows the damage caused to society and individuals by sexual immorality.

              Simply because something is part of revelation doesn’t *always* mean you can’t find it out in other ways.

            2. Maybe, although I think the intellectual conflict comes between religion and the western concept of rationalism. So, as an evangelical (broadly defined), I believe that the salvation of all men is brought about because an obscure carpenter, who was the Son of God, was nailed to a cross about 2000 years ago. Now, I am absolutely certain about the truth of that but, under no definition I’m aware of, can that be described as rational belief.

              In fact, from my work in history, I would argue that the determination on the part of Protestants to have a rational faith began to emerge in the late 17th century as they grappled with ongoing intellectual revolutions. So, Jonathan Edwards claiming that he could present a rational argument for the atonement is different in kind but not type from young earth creationists arguing that they hold a scientific position.

              1. late 17th century

                The era of Newton and Leibnitz.

    2. “Followed by a 1,000 word screed about how much they aren’t going to talk to you about politics.”

      Awesome, so all I have to do is tell them I don’t plan to vote Hillary, and they’ll stop talking to me about politics? Usually, when I tell a Hillary supporter I might vote third party, they won’t leave me alone.

  10. Surprisingly, I found it just as easy to find a Starbucks in Utah as anywhere else in the country. I bet there’s plenty of Jack Mormons who will change their vote for a coffee milkshake.

    1. They want a friendly environment for their infidel brothers and sisters.

    2. I actually found Salt Lake City to be among the most gay-friendly places in the country.

      1. SLC’s practically a suburb of California at this point. The culture there is VERY different at this point from most of the rest of the state (Park City being another well-known lefty haven in UT), the presence of the church headquarters there notwithstanding.

  11. Here’s a poll from the Salt Lake Tribune that was published yesterday:


    They’ve got:

    30% going for McMullin
    4% going for Johnson
    32% going Trump
    24% going for Hillary
    1% going for Stein.

    Doesn’t that mean at least 34% of the state’s voters are trending libertarian vs. 25% going progressive?

    If that’s because of Mormons, I wish the whole country was Mormon.

    I repeat: There’s a big difference between fundamentalists and evangelicals.

    Generally speaking, fundamentalists want the government to leave them alone. They believe they have the truth, and they’re afraid that the government is going to turn against them and force them to violate their religious convictions. Hell, that’s what it says will happen in the Bible.

    Fundamentalism is about principles over principals.

    Generally speaking, evangelicals want to use the government to force their religious beliefs on other people for their own good. It is no surprise that the progressives originally sprang from the evangelical movement. Progressives are basically evangelicals whose faith is no longer centered on God.

    Evangelicals are about how the ends and good intentions justify the means.

    I would rather coexist with fundamentalists than evangelicals any day.

    1. Doesn’t that mean at least 34% of the state’s voters are trending libertarian vs. 25% going progressive?

      How exactly is McMullin a libertarian, though? Based on what I’ve seen, he’s essentially a neocon proxy being pushed by neocon pundits and operators.

      1. He’s no libertarian, but he’s been able to score points off Johnson who also has nonlibertarian positions.

      2. I know that libertarians are now typified as being anti-war, but that isn’t the case and hasn’t always been the case.

        Various foreign policy ideas can be justified or attacked from various libertarian positions, but there is no libertarian foreign policy.

        I defended the invasion of Afghanistan in libertarian terms.

        I opposed the Iraq War in libertarian terms.

        I defended the logic behind (although not the constitutionality of) our participation in the Libyan revolution in libertarian terms.

        I don’t know what you mean by “neocon”, exactly, but suggesting that some threats to our rights may ultimately stem from authoritarians beyond our borders is not fundamentally unlibertarian.

        1. I defended the logic behind (although not the constitutionality of) our participation in the Libyan revolution in libertarian terms.


        2. “neocon” means anything idiots don’t like… that or JOOOOO!

  12. I can’t believe how many Hillary ads I’m seeing in NYC. I don’t Obama even bothered.

    1. Those may be targeting donors.

      Here’s what we’re doing with your money.

      Please send more.

    2. The last time NY went to Republicans was before I was not old enough to vote and I’m no spring chicken. You remember Reagan don’t you? And then it didn’t matter because of course even if they had won NY every state less Republican than it they’d still have lost.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.