Attention Utahns: You’re now living in a battleground state.
On Wednesday morning, just hours ahead of the third presidential debate, CNN updated its “Road to 270” electoral college map and changed Utah from a “solid Republican” state to a “battleground state.”https://twitter.com/elliosch/status/788780383970193409
“We have also moved Utah to a true battleground due to third-party candidate Evan McMullin surging in several polls there and the clear struggle Trump has had to rally what is usually the most reliably Republican state to his side,” CNN reported.
Like Utah, Arizona went from a “lean Republican” state to a “battleground.”
CNN also shifted both Nevada and Florida from a battleground state to leaning in Clinton’s favor.
You can read more about the overall changes in CNN’s battleground map here.
CNN isn’t the first news organization to define Utah as a battleground state. NBC News moved the Beehive State from “Lean GOP” to “Toss-up” last week.
Indeed, recent polls have shown a tight race in the Beehive State. It’s something that’s caught national media attention, as FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver wrote a lengthy piece about how the state’s unusual voting habits in the 2016 election have caused this change for the typically deep-red Utah. Silver wrote there’s a full possibility that Clinton or McMullin could win.
That prediction is based on recent polls. As Deseret News reported last week, a Y2 analytics poll found Trump and Clinton tied up, with McMullin trailing just behind the two major party candidates.
A more recent poll from Rasmussen found that Trump leads Utah by 1 percent over McMullin, 30 to 29 percent, with Clinton trailing behind at 28 percent.
“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.”
Meanwhile, a CBS poll showed that Utah isn’t a battleground state at all, with Trump at 37 percent and McMullin and Clinton at 20 percent.
Overall, Clinton still appears in the lead, according to a handful of new polls.
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.