Why Donald Trump could lose red Utah: Mormon America has found another candidate.

Source: The Washington Post

Although Mormons have traditionally been the most Republican religious group in the United States, it appears that they are fleeing this year’s GOP candidate.

This election has proved excruciating for Mormons, who have deep animosity toward Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, both of whom are perceived as not living up to their moral standards. But Mormons may have found an alternative to choosing the “lesser of two evils”: Independent candidate Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer turned policy wonk who also is a Mormon.

The shift of Mormons away from the GOP is stunning, said Quin Monson, a political scientist at Brigham Young University. A Democrat has not won Utah, a heavily Mormon state that holds the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, since 1964.

“In many elections in the last 20 years, Mormons have been neck and neck for the title of ‘Most Republican,’ but that’s not going to happen this time,” Monson said.

Evan McMullin’s run

McMullin’s path to the White House is highly unlikely but not impossible. As FiveThirtyEight explains, McMullin would have to win Utah, which has six electoral votes; both Trump and Clinton would have to fail to receive a majority of votes from the electoral college; and the House would have to choose McMullin as president. The last time an election was decided in the House was 1824, when John Quincy Adams was selected.

Even though McMullin, who will be on 11 state ballots, has an extremely slim chance of becoming the country’s first Mormon president, his candidacy has divided Mormons in Utah. The state appears to be almost split between Trump, Clinton and McMullin, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average, with Trump polling just five points ahead. Many Mormons are turned off by Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s pro-abortion-rights position, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s policies don’t align with those of conservative Mormons.

Mormons, who make up 1.6 percent of the U.S. population, account for about 60 percent in Utah. When Mitt Romney, a Mormon, was running for president in 2012, more than 60 percent of LDS members identified as Republicans; now 48 percent say the same, according to a Pew Research Center survey.

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