A new Rasmussen poll released Monday found that Evan McMullin’s popularity in the Beehive State is rivaling that of the two major party candidates.
The poll showed that McMullin trails Republican nominee Donald Trump by one point, 30 to 29 percent, and is ahead of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who had 28 percent. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has 5 percent and Jill Stein has 1 percent of the vote in the deep red state.
“Should McMullin win the state of Utah, he would be the first independent since 1968 to take electoral college votes,” according to the poll. “McMullin and his running mate Mindy Finn have gathered the attention of the national media since they began to make polling strides in Utah. Campaign efforts at the weekend were also targeted at Idaho.”
The poll, which surveyed 750 likely voters by phone, asked participants which candidate they would vote for in the election if it were held today.
Trump and Clinton aren’t viewed favorably in Utah, though. About 54 percent of people find Trump unfavorable, while 14 percent find him somewhat unfavorable. Meanwhile, 12 percent see him as very favorable and 19 percent somewhat favorable.
Clinton is seen as very unfavorable by 60 percent of respondents and somewhat unfavored by 12 percent.
McMullin, meanwhile, remains unknown, with 19 percent of the Utah population unsure of who he is. While 81 percent have heard of him, 22 percent find him very favorable and 29 percent see him as somewhat favorable.
Most of all, Utahns think their state is going to be "very important" during this election, with 65 percent saying Utah will be more significant than normal.
Indeed, Utah’s status in the 2016 election has been in question all year, given that the state hasn’t shown favorability toward Trump or Clinton. Recently, NBC News deemed it a battleground state because of the ever-tightening polls.
A poll released last week from Y2 analytics showed that the race in Utah had tightened significantly, with Trump’s lead reduced from double digits over Clinton to a virtual tie. The poll also showed that McMullin had climbed in the eyes of Utahns, earning 22 percent of the total vote. National media began reporting on McMullin and how he could win the election.26 comments on this story
But a CBS poll released Sunday showed that Trump still has a commanding lead in the Beehive State. The poll showed Trump at 37 percent, with McMullin and Clinton tied at 20 percent. The CBS poll also showed a generational divide in Utah, with 33 percent of those under 30 favoring McMullin, more than any other candidate.
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.