The McMullin Factor
Via FiveThirtyEight: Polls May Be Underestimating Evan McMullin’s Chances In Utah
Utah is an unusual case. Polls are scarce there, the dynamic has changed quite quickly, and these factors can significantly affect polling results. Our model already excludes Utah polling that doesn’t poll McMullin at all, and that will remain our official approach. But unofficially, we thought we’d take a look at how things might be different if we excluded all polls that didn’t treat McMullin the same way they do the major-party candidates.
Unsurprisingly, this paints a better picture of his chances. As of 3:30 p.m. Eastern time on Oct. 24, our polls-only model gave McMullin a 13.9 percent chance of winning Utah, and the now-cast gave him a 22.5 percent chance. Remove the three polls discussed above, and those numbers rise to 23.5 percent and 38.4 percent, respectively. In other words, excluding a small number of suspect polls improves McMullin’s chances in Utah by about 70 percent, which inches him ever closer to even money.
Now, McMullin is not going to be of any significance to the overall outcome of the race, but if he can win Utah (or if he creates a pathway for Clinton to win Utah) I think he candidacy will have some longer-term consequences for the GOP. If Trump ends up being sufficiently toxic as a candidate to allow one of the deepest of deep red states to be lost, it will get the attention of Republican elites as they try and deal with AfterTrump. Such an outcome would certainly be empirical evidence of how different a candidate Trump has been.
And, of course, as an elections nerd I would just love to see a state go third party in the EC for the novelty of it all.