GOP insiders in Utah are admitting that surging independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin has a good chance of winning the state on Election Day, the Washington Examiner reports.
A recent Emerson College poll showed McMullin in the lead at 31 percent, followed by Republican Donald Trump with 27 percent and Democrat Hillary Clinton at 24 percent. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percentage points.
Boyd Matheson, president of the conservative Sutherland Institute in Salt Lake City, told the Examiner that "McMullin has the inside track and will likely win the state."
The last time a Republican presidential candidate did not win in Utah was in 1964.
The Trump campaign apparently recognizes the danger of losing the state, and Trump's running mate Mike Pence is in Utah on Wednesday for a rally in the hopes of salvaging a victory.
McMullin, 40, who is Mormon, a Utah native and a former CIA operative, only entered the race in August. He has heavily criticized the GOP nominee and is giving voice to Republicans who oppose Trump, but do not want to vote for Clinton either.
Earlier this week McMullin warned ABC's "This Week" that "The conservative movement will need a new political vehicle" if the Republican Party is unable to make the changes necessary after this election.
The original goal of his candidacy was to prevent either Trump or Clinton from winning the 270 electoral votes necessary to capture the White House and thus send the decision to the House of Representatives, where he could offer himself as a compromise candidate.
While admitting that goal may no longer be realistic, McMullin told ABC a vote for him would be both a message that people still stand on principle and would also lay the groundwork for the battle over the future of the conservative movement.
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