Gary Johnson taking New Mexico, probably not. Evan McMullin getting Utah, that’s a real possibility!
The first real polls from New Mexico and Utah came in this month and they have been interesting. As expected, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are pretty close in both states, which makes a lot of sense if you think about the electorate in both New Mexico and Utah.
In 2016 presidential contest, New Mexico has always been considered to be a battleground state. After all, a state with a rather large Hispanic population that is constantly butting heads with border control activists pretty much makes New Mexico the antithesis of the 2016 presidential contest.
As for Utah, well… that’s a little more complicated. While traditionally a “red state”, Utah this year – with its large conservative Mormon population – isn’t taking a particular liking to Trump. As you may have guessed, this has left the door open for someone other than the Republican presidential nominee to take the state.
However, there’s an interesting wrinkle to all this. In New Mexico the race is close enough that Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is actually in striking distance of getting enough votes to win the state. And as for Utah…
Here it is. New poll has Utah a statistical dead heat:
— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) October 17, 2016
So the question; can a third party candidate actually win these states?
The Case of Gary Johnson Winning New Mexico
As an Albuquerque Journal polls shows, the race is close between Hillary Clinton (35%) and Donald Trump (31%). However the real surprise of the poll was the performance of Gary Johnson getting 24%. Now granted, this was before the Trump campaign had gone into complete meltdown mode, so these numbers are definitely not going to be the same, but the question has to be asked; can Johnson actually win New Mexico?
There are a few factors that are definitely going in Johnson’s favor. One is how historically unpopular both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have become as this election cycle has went on. With the favorability ratings for both candidates being historically low, along with just under half of all Millennial voters contemplating voting for third-party candidates this has all lead Johnson to potentially take New Mexico!
With all that said, “potentially” still is a long way from certain. Third party candidates historically do worse the closer we get to Election Day. Also even though Johnson was governor of New Mexico for eight years (1995-2003), many just don’t know who he is or what he stands for, this of course doesn’t help his chances. So while there definitely is a chance, it’s not as good as some people would have you think.
The Case of Evan McMullin Winning Utah
While Johnson’s chances of taking New Mexico in the general election is slim, Evan McMullin’s chances of getting Utah are actually pretty, pretty, pretty good! With Trump and Clinton in a literal tie, McMullin is close enough – only five percentage points behind – to make him winning Utah viable.
Even though there are a few roadblocks for him to win Utah – lack of name recognition, not being a candidate of a major party, ect. – he has some major factors in his favor. One of them is the fact he’s a Mormon, which can’t be overstated enough! Even though Utah is traditionally a very conservative state – has always been a guaranteed 6 electoral votes for the GOP in the past – this year however, it’s heavily Mormon population hasn’t necessarily embraced Trump. In the Republican primaries this summer Trump only finished with 14% of the vote, finishing behind both Ted Cruz and John Kasich.
So for McMullin (a Mormon conservative), the conditions of taking Utah is absolutely possible. Now add that to the potential backing of someone like Mitt Romney (a conservative that is REALLY popular in Utah and has a particular distaste for Donald Trump), then the odds of McMullin getting the state becomes even more likely.
(Photo Credit: Google Images)