Keep your eyes on the Beehive State. The state of Utah should be classified as a battleground state for the general election, but not in the traditional sense. Unlike other battleground states where the presidential race is primarily between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton there are four candidates who are polling in double digits in Utah.
A new statewide poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday this week by Y2 Analytics shows that independent candidate and graduate of Brigham Young University Evan McMullin has surged into a statical tie with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in Utah.
Clinton and Trump both polled at 26 percent. McMullin pulls 22 percent and is within the margin of error. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson polls at 14 percent while one percent support Green Party candidate Jill Stein. An additional 3 percent claim to back another candidate and seven percent say they are still undecided.
The Y2 Analytics memo notes that the video released Friday has damaged Donald Trump badly in the state:
This dramatic shift in presidential preference occurs on the heels of a dramatic weekend of presidential politics in Utah that included the release of an NBC Access Hollywood video in which Donald Trump is heard bragging about using his celebrity status to grope women. Our poll shows that 64% of voters in Utah have seen the video, while another 30% had heard about it. Among those that had either watched or heard about the video, 37% say they now think worse of Trump because of the tape. Trump’s support in Utah had already lagged significantly behind prior Republican nominees, but this revelation has weakened him to the point of losing his tenuous lead.
Following the release of the video a host of Utah Republican officials abandoned Trump, some calling on him to drop out of the presidential campaign. Utah voters have also begun abandoning Trump and 51% believe he should drop out of the race altogether, including 46% of Republicans, and 52% of voters that watched the Access Hollywood video.
A majority of Utahns are supportive of Republican officials that have either withheld or reneged their support of Mr. Trump with 55% saying that Republican leaders should no longer support him as the Republican nominee for president, including a majority of Mormons (56%). Republicans themselves are split with 46% saying Republican leaders should abandon Mr. Trump and 46% saying they should continue supporting the nominee.
They point out that both major party candidates are seen unfavorably by seven out of 10 Utahns polled. McMullin is still unknown with only 52 percent aware of his candidacy which makes his rise all the more remarkable. With those who do know him four out of five Utahns have a favorable opinion.
The poll was conducted on October 10-11, 2016 with 500 likely voters in Utah. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percent.