Evan McMullin

Evan McMullin: Only a Mormon Phenomenon So Far

Outside of Utah and the Mormon belt of Idaho, the independent conservative is polling in Jill Stein territory


Not Evan McMullin. I DON'T THINK. ||| Motorbooks

Nineteen days ago I wondered in this space why the competitive-in-Utah independent conservative Evan McMullin was only being polled in two of the 11 states in which his name appears on the presidential ballot (Virginia being the other). Some of those polities, after all, are key battlegrounds where Hillary Clinton and the McMullin-damaging Donald Trump are running very close to one another.

Since then, the former CIA agent and Goldman Sachs investment banker has appeared on polls in an additional four states, and there is one inescapable if preliminary conclusion: McMullin is only a meaningful factor in regions where his fellow Mormons live.

In his native state of Utah, for example, McMullin has appeared on 11 polls, averaging 22 percent, including 30 percent over the most recent five since mid-October. FiveThirtyEight gives the previously unknown candidate "an 18 to 25 percent chance of winning the state," which would be a historical milestone not seen since 1968, leaving open the still-remote possibility that 100 other things could break his way and McMullin would magically end up president. And in the second-largest Mormon state of Idaho (estimated LDS population: 19%), he has racked up a couple of 10 percent poll showings as well, compared to Libertarian Gary Johnson's 5 percent in those same surveys. But as I wrote here last week, the independent's Idaho success is largely attributable to local Mormons, of whom one in three back their co-religionist.

The other three states, however, look grim. Minnesota, as mentioned here, featured its first McMullin poll last week, and he received just 1 percent, tied with Green Party nominee Jill Stein, and far behind Gary Johnson's 6. Then this week, Colorado, which has a bazillion names on the ballot (no really, besides the leading five candidates there's also Darrell Castle, Gloria Estela La Riva, Rocky De La Fuente, Alyson Kennedy, Laurence Kotlikoff, Frank Atwood, Jim Hedges, Tom Hoefling, Chris Keniston, Kyle Kenley Koptike, Bradford Lyttle, Joseph A. Maldonado, Michael Maturen, Ryan Alan Scott, Rod Silva, Mike Smith, and Emidio Soltysik), had its first McMullinized poll, and it, too, came in at a desultory 1 percent, behind Stein's 2 percent Johnson's 7. Colorado, like Johnson's home state of New Mexico—where McMullin is on the ballot but not yet being polled—is A) adjacent to Utah, and B) home to a 2 percent Mormon population. Any theory of McMullinmentum has to show signs of life in the Rocky Mountain State, and so far there aren't any.

Kentucky also came on the board this week, and McMullin's still stuck at 1 percent there, though at least (from his point of view) he has company in Stein and Johnson, the latter of whom is usually at around 4 in the Bluegrass State. Even in Virginia, which features both a 2 percent Mormon population and a not-insubstantial CIA personnel and a bunch of Beltway types more favorable toward McMullinite manners than the vulgarities of Donald Trump, Bill Kristol's last, best hope averages just 2 percent in the 8 polls on which he has appeared.

None of this is to say that McMullin can't influence this race in surprising ways. Iowa is still neck-and-neck, and even a 1 percent showing there could help tip things toward Clinton, give that a preponderance of his support comes from self-identified Republicans and conservatives. McMullin's success among Mormon populations could prove the largest factor driving Gary Johnson below the significant 5 percent threshold. Even his absence on a ballot, such as his gratuitous stiffarming in Florida, could prove the decisive parliamentary path-clearing for Donald Trump in an always critical state.

But as things currently stand, and in the absence of polling to the contrary, Evan McMullin just does not look positioned to somehow rebuild the shook-up GOP in his decidedly Marco Rubioesque image. He looks like a guy polling well among an interestingly disgruntled, regionally clustered religious minority. That may be enough to win one state, while salving some open wounds among Washington's suddenly alienated conservative elite, but it leaves the future of the Republican Party just as confused as it ever was.

NEXT: Trump's Immigrant Bashing Isn't Winning the GOP White Voters

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  1. I can’t Evan!

  2. So he will get more votes than the Libertarian Party candidate.

    1. To be fair,Mormons breed like rabbits. He has a built in advantage.

  3. Trump is panicked a bit about McMuffin

    http://heatst.com/world/donald-trump-me … llin-utah/

    As usual, he’s not very bright and doesn’t realize that just ignoring 3rd party candidates instead of legitimizing them is the best way to play it.

  4. McMuffin is the protest vote against the the protest vote. He’s a 4th party to the 3rd parties, if you will.

    It has to be a big blow to the morale of the LP if Johnson can’t crack 5% and McMuffin of all people wins electoral votes. It may be time to purge the LP of its cosmo block. Sorry, Reason writers. You will still have your cocktail parties, though.

    1. Did he blow it with his lack of religious liberty support, or is the problem with 3rd parties inherently that they’re going to schism into smaller and smaller identity groups?

      1. With the Mormons, most definitely his lack of support for religious freedom. And it’s not like Johnson would have needed to be full throttle on gay cakes to take Utah this election cycle. Just maybe not pissing in their eyes would have been a good idea. It was the state most ripe for the taking and that was easy to see early on.

        1. Weed

          1. Sure if you got any.

            1. Saving the last of my Cheeba Chews for election day. In honor of Gary

            2. But weed cost Gary votes in Utah and elsewhere. Insert Romney quote here.
              People are generally o.k. with youthful indiscretions, but many aren’t ready yet for a commander-in-chief who was still getting baked until only a few months ago.

      2. It’s both, actually. He led with his Social Issues Chin, parked the Fiscal Conservative Bus and let it collect dust, as effort to get BernieBros and BernieBabes. That ultimately FAILed, since the only real Venn diagram that really mattered to the BernieBrobettes is the AntiWar bloc. Which, has fizzled. Expectedly, by the by.

        Otherwise, most TEAM BLUEsters (and more than a few TEAM REDsters) find their respective parties’ either stated or revealed positions on matters Social and Medical to be sufficient now, and much more malleable in the future. GayJay, really, has nothing to offer them that they can’t find somewhere else, and with much more immediate benefit, which in of itself is not an irrational position.

        In that, lies the rub. He made himself such a niche candidate trying to consolidate a bunch of disaffected niches, and ultimately really isn’t pleasing anyone. His grasp of marketing, forget markets, is dismal at best, trying to sell something most voters apparently, when revealed, don’t really want. And poke them in the eye whilst doing it to establish SJW cred that he is not going overcome TEAM BLUE with, in particular.

        Why he didn’t make NM his homebase HQ, instead of UT, which is the absolute stupidest thing (besides begging for Weld) he has done, is beyond me. Even Mondale won his home state, and GayJay’s biggest selling point is allegedly an extremely competent an popular governor of said state.

    2. An LP large enough to win an election, or at least a state or four, is going to have to be big tent enough to include Reason writers and Gary Johnson. But maybe not Weld.

      Of course, it also needs to include people who value freedom of association.

      1. I think the baseline principles of libertarianism can be very accommodating to a ‘big tent’ approach. I just think Johnson’s attempt to do that was a very bad one. And there are some people who are libertarians who are very repulsed by the idea of being associated with icky religious types, principles be damned.

        1. And some of us are icky religious types.

          1. If you’re icky, robc, then I am icky. And you are one of my favourite commenters, by the by. Despite your inherently contrarian nature. (I think it’s in your DNA 🙂

            1. You are icky only because you made that right parenthesis do double duty as both a closing parenthesis and the smile of a smiley.

              1. Maybe it’s a little cock and balls inside the parentheses.

            2. your inherently contrarian nature

              I disagree.

              Also, that is the robc’s 2nd law in action.

            3. And you are one of my favourite commenters, by the by

              Right back at ya.

              When you disappeared for a while, I was afraid you had died fighting for Ukrainian independence or something.

          2. Yes, but your ickiness has nothing to do with your religiosity. :-p

          3. Nah. There are icky religious types, but you aren’t it. The icky ones are the ones who want social engineering, whether of the left-wing or right-wing variety. The very ickiest are probably the left wing ones who think that Christian charity means forced redistribution.

            1. True, while I am an engineer, Im not very social.

            2. I find myself disliking a number of typical ideas from “right-wing” Christians (usually involving things like sex, profanity, Valhalla….) Yet, these days, it seems I generally end up agreeing with them politically far more often than lefties (whether religious or atheist). There does seem to be a stronger sense of “I don’t think that is a moral thing to do, BUT it shouldn’t necessarily be against the law” in the more right-leaning Christian community than anywhere on the left.

        2. And there are some people who are libertarians who are very repulsed by the idea of being associated with icky religious types, principles be damned.

          There are certainly some, but I question how many. Mostly what I have to go on is the H&R commentariat, so I could be wrong. But it seems like we have a lot of religious libertarians here and most of the atheists and agnostics can’t stand the anti-religion atheists that get all the attention.

          I think you are probably right overall, though. Johnson hasn’t done a good job getting the libertarian message to the religious right and has in some ways gone out of his way to alienate them. He’s still the best candidate by a long shot, though.

        3. I like our God-fearing group here; but then again, I’m a small-a atheist. I don’t freak out every time I see the phrase “In God We Trust” on my coins. They could print “Polyphonic Motorcycle-Banana” on my money – it would have the same effect on me and my life.

          1. I like to think that most libertarian atheists are like that. Could be confirmation bias.

            1. I think that tends to be true, the asshole atheists tend to be from the SJW camp

          2. There should be a Christian cryptocurrency. We could call it Chickcoin, after the late Jack Chick.

          3. I just always pretend there is an extra “s” after God. But what the hell.

        4. And there are libertarians who view anyone with left of Pat Robinson views on social issues (their ethicality, not proposed legality) as “Cosmo-fags” so it does cut both ways.

    3. The absolute failure of the Johnson campaign should be entirely placed on the cosmos and their desire to water down everything so they’re still ‘hip’ with the cocktail crowd. Johnson is exactly what the cosmos wanted and he has been an abysmal disaster. He was doing well in Utah, until he adopted the cosmo mantra: ‘religious people are icky’.

      I cannot wait to say, in the words of Murray Rothbard, “and they didn’t even get the votes”

      1. The absolute failure of the Johnson campaign

        We’ll see what happens on election day, but he still looks likely to be the most successful Libertarian candidate yet. I don’t think “absolute failure” is accurate (unless you also apply it to every other LP presidential ticket ever).

    4. It may be time to purge the LP of its cosmo block.

      Maybe. But then you will end up needing to purge it of its socon bloc in a few years.

      While McMuffin may be sort of an alternative to the LP candidate, I don’t get the sense that the Utah voters who like him are particularly interested in a more libertarian candidate.
      Maybe Johnson would do better with a more strictly principled view of religious liberty and public accommodation laws. But I’m not convinced that Mormons as a voting bloc particularly want someone who is more libertarian in other ways. They are usually happy to vote for the mainstream Republican.

      1. I won’t be happy until the Reason commentariat, and the LP itself, are just me and my sock puppets telling Nick to die of ball cancer.

        1. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, Tulpa.

      2. As a Mormon currently living in Utah, that’s my take on my coreligionists as well. Without McMullin, Johnson would have been the NeverTrump hold-your-nose vote for a lot of Mormons. McMullin is more of a conscience vote for a lot of people here.

  5. If “100 other things break his way”, and he wins Utah and no one gets to 270, I expect a schism from either the R electors or the D electors (or both), that leads to McMuffin not finishing in the top 3.

    Honestly, it will be awesome to watch.

    1. I wonder what kind of odds you can get on possible oddball choices for who will be President on the morning of Jan 21?

      1. Tim Kaine is by far your best oddball choice.

        1. I think he may be like 5:2 right now.

          Nothing oddball about it.

      2. Even more fun, who is President on Jan 21, 2018?

        That gives a year for impeachment and removal from office.

        1. For the good of the country, Obama will pardon Hillary after the election

          1. We covered this the other day:

            he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

            1. That puts a fly in her ointment

              1. That is how she likes her ointment, yes.

                1. Did Westworld pay for the product placement of the fly on her face during the debate?

                  1. I would let Evan Rachel Wood smack my fly anytime!!

                    I am seriously liking that show!

      3. Let me introduce you all to Ladbrokes US Election betting subsite.

        Oddball bets:

        McMuffin 250/1
        GJ 1000/1 (he was 500/1 last week, ugh)
        Kaine 100/1

        BTW, odds last I checked were 1/5 Clinton, 4/1 Trump. Now it’s 2/5 Clinton, 2/1 Trump.

        1. I cant visit from work, but what are the actual clauses for winning? Are they gonna pay out next Wednesday if someone has 270 EC votes or are they going to wait until January?

          I worded my statement specifically to allow many eventualities.

          1. Damn if I know, I literally gambled twice in my life. The fact that Kaine is there makes me think it’s gonna wait till inauguration.

            One of the best you can make is “Obama still to be sitting President on Feb 1 2017”. 16/1 odds, btw.

            1. Gary Johnson vote share:
              0-5% 2/5
              5-10% 15/8
              over 10% 25/1

    2. But… just keep a hillary placeholder for the next eight years… you know, so you’re not surprised.

  6. So what you’re saying is in the most of the country, he’ll be left with egg on his face?

    1. Better scramble away from that one, DD.

    2. McMullin’s candidacy is like a yolk on Trump’s neck.

      1. These jokes are getting pretty cheesy.

        1. That’s always the casein around here.

        2. “Eggs are just cheese that comes from chickens” – Mike M., apparently

          1. I think it’s more a McMuffin joke than an egg joke.

            1. The day i pass up a chance to mock Mikey is the day they put me in the ground.

  7. What’s mcmullin’s position on the Jewish problem?

    1. He’s agin’ it!

    2. No bacon.

  8. Imagine if Mitt Romney had run a third party candidacy in Utah with the aim of getting elected by the electoral college. That would have been epic.

    1. He was weighed down by binders of women.

  9. McMullin is only a meaningful factor in regions where his fellow Mormons live.

    Racist voters.

  10. 100 other things could break his way and McMullin would magically end up president

    Would this be invested with more or less magic than his underwear?

  11. What’s this about the mermen?

  12. Ed McMuffin sometimes strikes me as the most detestable candidate in a race full of detestable candidates.

    Fuck that guy.

    1. Say what you want about that no-shell-having-turtle-looking motherfucker, at least he’s neither Hillary nor Trump.

      Presidential eligibility is a goddamn low bar these days, my friend.

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    1. You got Cheers? Sweet!

  14. Nineteen days ago I wondered in this space why the competitive-in-Utah independent conservative Evan McMullin was being written up here like he was a major spoiler and killing Johnson in the polls when he was obviously, even then, on the ballot in 11 states (all states where its fairly easy to get on the ballot as a 3PC) and only doing well (but amazingly well) in Utah.

    I don’t think most people in other states have even heard of the guy.

  15. Matt, new abcnews poll.


    Guess who else is polling in Jill Stein territory? Why, libertarian Johnson, that’s who.

    1. I keep telling them that but they don’t want to listen.

      1. Stein may beat GayJay nationally.

  16. Maybe President Monson will have a vision about buggery and birthday cakes.

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