How Utah became a player in the 2016 election
Posted November 8, 2016
National media outlets from around the nation have put an increased emphasis on Utah, a traditionally red state that hasn’t voted for a Democrat since 1964 but doesn’t overwhelmingly support the current GOP nominee, Donald Trump.
In fact, as BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins reported, Trump and his campaign have struggled to lock down Utah completely, saying that the state may not tie itself to the Republican Party in upcoming elections because of the damage that’s been done.
Trump, however, still leads the state in the most recent polls.
The pollsters at FiveThirtyEight, meanwhile, give third-party candidate Evan McMullin a 12.7 percent chance of winning the state, as he sits at an average 28 percent of the vote. Much of this is due to McMullin spreading a #NeverTrump and true conservative message.
CNN talked to independent candidate McMullin on Monday morning, highlighting how the candidate has a chance to win Utah.
So how did we get to this point? Here’s a look at our reports about all the events that have helped shape the Beehive State into a battleground for the 2016 election.
Rumors started to swirl that 2012 Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney, who lost the 2012 election to President Barack Obama, would make a run for the presidency.
Instead, Romney decided to speak out against Donald Trump, who started to make a heavy impact in the polls.
• March 3: Mitt Romney: Trump is 'a phony, a fraud'
Polls showed that Utahns didn’t favor Trump, supporting Texas Sen. Ted Cruz over all other GOP nominees in the Utah caucus.
• March 22: Cruz wins big in Utah over Kasich, Trump
Then Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate who has his headquarters in the state, became more popular.
Political pundits and commentators suggested that Romney might endorse Johnson because of the former Massachusetts governor’s friendship with Johnson’s running mate, Bill Weld.
It was around this time that Johnson’s popularity began to surge in Utah, despite some conflicting words about religious freedom and the LDS Church.
Utah became something of a swing state.
Eventually, all three national candidates submitted op-eds to the Deseret News.
Gary Johnson submitted first.
Followed by Hillary Clinton.
And then Trump.
If that wasn’t enough, BYU grad Evan McMullin announced that he would make a “Hail Mary” bid for the presidency.
Slowly, McMullin gained more attention.
McMullin shared an op-ed with the Deseret News once his popularity began to rise.
As did a number of other surrogates and supporters of the candidates.
In early October, after some disparaging remarks by Trump about women were released, the Deseret News published an editorial calling on the GOP nominee to "resign his candidacy."
And now, Utah’s remains a hard state to call, though polls seem to have leveled out and shown a Trump lead.
What will happen? We will know soon.