Evan McMullin. Photo courtesy of Evan McMullin

The conservative savior many Mormons hope will crush Donald Trump

Evan McMullin. Photo courtesy of Evan McMullin

Evan McMullin. Photo courtesy of Evan McMullin

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(RNS) Independent Evan McMullin has virtually no shot at winning the White House.

The Utah Republican is on 11 state ballots. He has no major-party backing, and he’s little known outside of the Beehive State.

But Mormon disaffection with Donald Trump is offering the Provo-born graduate of Brigham Young University a chance to disrupt the outcome in this reliably red state, which has not gone to the Democrats since 1964.

Long before the release of Trump’s "Access Hollywood" tape and the sexual assault allegations, many Mormon voters have been repelled by Trump and unable to warm to his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

A fellow Mormon who jumped into the presidential race on Aug. 8, McMullin has caught their fancy. The 40-year-old former CIA agent worked as a Republican congressional staffer and then as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs.

Three different polls conducted in Utah in the past week show McMullin in either a statistical tie with Trump and Clinton, or beginning to catch up to them. A strong performance from McMullin could give him the state’s six electoral votes or hand the state over to Clinton.

Reached by phone, McMullin said neither Trump nor Clinton makes the case for limited government, and so he is taking the mantle as the one true conservative.

And while he is critical of Clinton’s policies, he is downright repulsed by Trump.

“He has said and done some vile things,” said McMullin, citing Trump’s treatment of women, minorities and people with disabilities. “We absolutely must reject him. This man is a threat to our democracy.”

Trump's troubles among Mormons, who make up 63 percent of Utah residents, have deepened over the course of the campaign. A religious minority with vivid memories of persecution, many Mormons were turned off by Trump’s call last year to ban Muslims and refugees from entering the country.

“We know an attack on one religious group’s liberty is an attack on all of our liberty,” said McMullin. He talks about helping minority communities through education, criminal justice and poverty reform.

Earlier this month, the Deseret News, which is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called for Trump to drop out of the presidential race.

Max Perry Mueller, assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Nebraska, said McMullin has presented himself as a vote that conservative Christians can make without moral guilt.

“Before the sexual assault allegations surfaced, they were willing to hold their nose and vote for Trump … but they just cannot do so any longer in the post-Trump-tape world,” said Mueller. “They’d rather go to the polls and vote in the affirmative for someone else, and not be tainted by a vote for Trump.”

He added that as Trump’s path to the presidency narrows, more conservatives might be willing to support McMullin, particularly Mormons who are “grossed out completely by Trump and want to raise up one of their own as a conservative movement savior.”

Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s former chief of staff, Boyd Matheson, said McMullin is a conservative who showcases a type of servant leadership that rings true to Mormons.

McMullin talks about building a “new conservative movement” and is passionate when speaking about abortion, race relations and religious liberty. Abortion, he has said, is a “clear violation” of the right to life.

“There cannot be a compromise on that; if there’s one thing that should be holy in this world, it’s life,” said McMullin.

While he is well-known in Utah, McMullin has very little name recognition nationally and has never held elected office.

Still, on Oct. 15 the McMullin campaign expected 150 people at an Idaho event. More than 1,200 showed up and the event had to be moved to accommodate the crowd, according to a campaign operative.

Perhaps as telling, other evangelicals are warming to him.

Alan Noble, editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture, said McMullin won him over with his views on racial injustice, abortion and religious liberty. Noble said Christians should vote for McMullin to show that “we aren’t going to be bullied into supporting a sexual abuser” who has shown signs of racism.

McMullin has received support from The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, National Review’s Jonah Goldberg and The Resurgent’s Erick Erickson.

Mere Orthodoxy founder Matthew Lee Anderson said a lot of his evangelical friends are planning to vote for McMullin.

“The Mormons in this election cycle have just been heroes,” said Anderson. “They have been one of the most consistent bastions of opposition to Donald Trump within the world of politically conservative constituencies in religious America.”

Former Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell endorsed McMullin last week after hosting an event for him at his home. Bell said the candidate charmed his guests.

“The fundamental test for me is character, and neither Clinton and especially Trump can overcome the barrier of character,” said Bell. “I am not going to vote for someone to fill Abraham Lincoln’s chair who doesn’t have integrity and American values.”

(Lorena O'Neil is a freelance journalist based in New Orleans)


  1. Hmm. Not one word about McMullin’s support of legalized gay marriage in America. That’s a deal-breaker right there.

    If you are liberal, vote for Hillary. If you are conservative, vote for Trump. Those are your only real choices.

  2. vote for me. I’m a Mormon. I’m not trump.
    Quite a resume and policy package there.

  3. I will be voting for Evan McMullin. For the past four years I have been serving as a Republican county delegate in Sanpete County, Utah. If McMullin weren’t in the race, I would probably vote for Darrel Castle of the Constitution Party.

  4. And you will be electing Hilary through default.

  5. Anybody that votes for this person will be inadvertently electing Hilary because you’re in fact doing the country a disservice playing the liberals game. What you need to think about is this man is not well known nor did he get elected by the peoples choice to run for the republican president elect. Ask yourself why this late comer is even asking you to throw away your vote? And if you were the least bit honest you’d admit he hasn’t got a chance to win. Remember the last mormon that ran threw away the election. He actually won the first debate hands down but sat there like s dummy in the following debates. Here we go again with another vote canceller.

  6. “There never was much hope. Only a fool’s hope, as I have been told.”

  7. I’m not voting for him because I expect him to win. I’m voting for him, in part, because I honestly can’t decide who I think will be a worse president: Mrs Clinton or Mr Trump.

  8. Then you’re self defeating. With God there is always hope.

  9. Trump is the lesser of two evils and that’s the best we got but if Hilary wins we will loose all of our God given rights protected through the Constitution. Hilary has already revealed her evil intentions whereas as Trump has stood on several good things if he keeps his word.

  10. McMullin has a chance to win if the decision goes to the House. It’s a small chance, but McMullin’s chances are trending up while Trump’s are trending down. McMullin might be our last chance to keep Hillary out of the White House.

  11. McMullin is against gay marriage but in favor of the rule of law. Gay marriage is the law now. So McMullin supports gay marriage to the extent that he has to in order to support the rule of law.

    McMullin is a serious candidate with a real and reasoned commitment to religious freedom and the 2nd Amendment. He’s also a Middle East expert. He’s got my vote.

  12. Hillary is heading toward a landslide. Our only chance of keeping her out of the White House is if we can deny her enough electoral votes so that the decision goes to the House. McMullin has a chance at becoming President. It’s a small chance, but he’s got my vote.

  13. Depends on the object of hope. For example, with God there is always hope of eternal life with Him. However, if one’s hope is to never suffer disease, for example, God will probably not fulfill that hope.

  14. You’re not serious are you because as I pointed out he very well UNKNOWN.

  15. Vote for McMullin and you’ll improve her chances greatly.

  16. I’m not convinced that Trump wouldn’t also run the Constitution through a shredder if he became president. I don’t think he believes in the rule of law.

  17. Yes we can never be free from disease especially the one that causes death but when we acquire a disease God will heal us and to that I can personally attest and my friend who was also cured in the last few weeks of a serious medical problem can attest also. I know I deserve God’s anger and wrath yet he has healed me and answered my prayer to heal my friend. So yes we have hope even when a deadly disease overcomes us.

  18. Again it’s a shame but it’s the best we got.

  19. I can’t improve her chances “greatly.” First, she’s already practically guaranteed to win. Second, I only have one vote. Third, I vote in California where all electoral votes go to the candidate with the most popular votes, so even my one vote will literally make no difference.

    Every conservative in California is free to vote for McMullin or Trump or anyone else, secure in the knowledge that our votes won’t count. So I’m casting my vote for the candidate I want to become our President.

  20. The people who chose Trump as the Republican nominee are the ones inadvertently electing Hillary. Now we’ve got the opportunity to vote for a serious-minded conservative. He even has a very small chance of winning, and the more votes he gets, the better his the odds get. Let’s not waste this one last chance, or do you really want Hillary to be the leader of the Free World?

  21. The only way she can win is if the fix is in and if she does there will be an uprising. Or will you as others let it happen?

  22. You need to think your comments through before you post them. Please go back and read mine because your man is virtually UNKNOWN. So yes he has little to NO chance of winning.

  23. Dred Scott (pro-slavery) used to be “the law now.” Plessy v. Ferguson (pro Jim-Crow) used to be “the law now.”

    Whenever the Supreme Court gets it wrong — and this new decision (Obergefell) is TOTALLY wrong and evil, just like with the other two examples — we need courageous elected officials who will NOT bow down and surrender to national evil.

    Legalized Gay Marriage is an unprecedented, astonishing national evil all by itself, (and that’s even if you don’t include the additional horror of destroyed religious freedoms).

    Your guy McMullin is NOT forced to surrender to that evil Obergefell decision. There’s nothing stopping him, right now, from at least saying that HE will appoint federal judges and USSC justices who will truncate and overturn Obergefell if he is elected president. That is surely within the rule of law. But McMullin has surrendered already.

    So McMullin is NOT a conservative. He’s NOT an alternative to the Big Two.

  24. I wouldn’t saddle up the white horse just yet. But watching Donald possibly lose Utah will make this whole election cycle worth it.

  25. Hillary:
    6 times investigated for “crooked acts”
    0 times evidence lead to a trial
    0 times convicted

    1597 evidence of “crooked acts” lead to a trial
    236 times Trump settled or was found guilty of “crooked acts” .

  26. Astonishing National evil.

    But nope. You’re not a bigot. Nosiree.

  27. Utahns miss the whole point. We’re not voting for a personality, we’re voting for a political future. Are Utahns for abortion? Are Utahns for same-sex marriage? Are Utahns for the right to bear arms? Are Utahns for a liberal Supreme Court that will support these immoral positions?
    Lastly are Utahns pharisaical purists who will not deal with crooked publicans or adulterous sinners as Jesus did?

  28. We’re not voting for a personality! We’re not voting for a woman, we’re not voting for a reality star. We’re voting for positions. Are you for abortions and same-sex marriage? Do you want gun control and huge migrant inflows? That is what to vote for. Not who to vote for.

  29. Trevor Noah had it down pat:
    Trump is running a cockfight in the woods
    Hillary saying something naughty at chess camp.

    The worst thing wikileaks found in Hillary’s Emails was a risotto recipe!

  30. If I thought Mr Trump was honest about his positions, I might think more strongly about voting for him because of those positions.

  31. “Are you for abortions and same-sex marriage?”

    What makes you think Trump has ever taken such positions seriously? He got Pence as VP so he could pretend to care. You’re a tool.

    The only issue Trump has sounded remotely honest about is a desire to cut taxes for the top percentile and raise them for people who work for a living.

    “Do you want gun control and huge migrant inflows?”

    Less gun violence and huge expansions of domestic markets! Sign me up!

  32. What would make you think that?:
    Bribing state officials?
    Abusing litigation process to avoid paying debts?
    Defrauding investors as a business model?
    The numerous sexual harassment lawsuits he settled out of court?
    The numerous violations of anti-discrimination laws in his businesses?
    Use of slave labor in projects in Dubai
    His various business concerns in China which could be leveraged
    against him personally?

  33. We must have a secular government. The bible or any religious book is not the ultimate authority on right or wrong. You cannot compare slavery/Jim Crowe (which most churches supported) with a law granting marriage (a civil contract) to gays. The former was oppresive and deprived individuals of dignity, basic human and civil rights. The latter does the opposite: it extends dignity to a group oppressed for something with a biological cause that sets them apart. Jesus would be ashamed of you!

  34. McMullin has virtually no chance of winning. Even is the vote goes to the house, they are not going to appoint McMullin. A vote for him is a vote for Hillary and her socialist policies: more Obamacare, more abortion, fewer gun rights, liberal supreme court, etc. The democrats in the house and senate will also follow her in lockstep. Republicans will not do the same with a Trump presidency. She can do major damage to our republic.

  35. McMullin has no chance of winning if the decision goes to the house and the likelihood that the decision goes to the house is very small. A vote for McMullin is a vote for Hillary and her policies are far worse than Trump’s.

  36. What if you’re really neither but have a nuanced view on many topics?

  37. Well all you Mormons I hope you will be proud that you will hand Hillary the Supreme Court—How Christian is that???
    I guess maybe it is good the country is going liberal to these folks–I used to think the Mormons were conservative?

  38. I wish people in this country had a backbone–stories like this make me realize that the agenda people have is more important to them than the future of our country—
    Donald Trump may not be my first-second-or third choice but he is the only one standing up to all of the media and all of the liars that basically run this country.
    For all the people that got their feelings hurt by him–Get some thick skin and vote for what is best for our country and not what is best for you or your agenda—when that happens we can get this country back–I for one will be done with following politics in this country–we are lied to on a massive scale and no use fighting all the people living off my taxes. I know what I think about them but not enough of us do!

  39. Do you really think the majority of Americans will vote for Trump? The people will choose the next President through our election. Don’t undermine our form of government by claiming the fix is in.

  40. Point taken, re: Dred Scot. Evil laws must be opposed. I just don’t care about gay marriage. I’m concerned with terrorism appeasement and gun rights.

  41. I don’t look to any mortal being for The Truth. McMullin is pro-gun, anti-terror and sane. That’s why I’m voting for him rather than either of the two main candidates.

  42. I absolutely agree that she will damage our republic. I would have voted for literally any Republican over her. But Trump is not a Republican. He’s admires Putin; he thinks America is no longer a great country. He lost a billion dollars, doesn’t pay taxes and doesn’t respect our laws–sexual assault is a crime. Plus, he seems incoherent; he speaks as if English is not his native language. I can’t vote for either of these people to be the leader of the Free World.

    McMullin has no chance? He’s got a better chance of winning the Presidency than I have of winning the lottery. As a person who’s bought at least 20 lottery tickets over the years, I’d be pretty inconsistent if I didn’t vote for McMullin on this important matter.

    But if anyone is concerned about the effect of my own, personal, vote, don’t worry. I’m a conservative in California. The way our electoral college works, my vote will literally mean nothing.

  43. Ask Bernie about the fix? So either you ignored wikileaks on the emails that state that fact or you choose to remain ignorant of the facts……..which is it.

  44. The choice is doing what is right despite how you are personally affected. Voting for the lesser of two evil is voting for evil. I can not vote for a philander or an enabler. my vote is for McMullen.

  45. That’s an awfully low bar, but when you’re looking for a decent conservative, that’s an apt summary of your options.

  46. Absolutely I do.

    I don’t believe the crap pedaled by Drudge, Breitbart, Faux News, and other sham “news” organizations. I know republicans have spent 30 years and millions of dollars in a very effective smear campaign of unprecedented duration and intensity that could make Mother Teresa look bad.

    I know Sec. Clinton has flaws and she’s really smart, experienced and extreme capable. I know what’s in the Russian hacked email dumps which clearly indicate Putin fears a Hillary Clinton presidency, while craving the election of his boyfriend, trump.

    I know that Sec. Clinton respects the rule of law, even though right wingers don’t like All Laws, just their favorites.

    That’s what I know and why I’m happy and honored to vote for Hillary Clinton. Soon to be Madame President! Woo-hoo! (The fact that she is a woman is a bonus.)

  47. “agenda people”

    Thats good, I like that. Yours is quite clear. Oh, and those people living off your taxes? trump has millions of tax dollars via his financing schemes. Most of the tax money goes from blue states to red states. Did you know that? Does it matter to you?

  48. I wouldn’t be surprised if we found out Mcmullin is a DNC plant to pull the gullible Mormons away. You know Hillary’s stance on important issues that are not in step with the doctrine of the church. Mcmullin serves only two purposes. He will steal votes from the only other viable candidate and he will make you feel all warm inside. Now drink your punch and go to sleep

  49. Wait a second, Bill; I’m confused. You say voting for McMullin greatly improves Hillary’s chances being elected through default. Now you’re saying the only way she can win is if the fix is in. So voting for McMullin is the fix?

  50. “I wish none of this had happened.”
    “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

  51. You’re wrong about “our votes won’t count.” Hillary is a creepy clown on steroids, but the fact is that she is as poll-driven as her no-good predecessor.

    Hillary’s gang is paid to watch and see how many people vote AGAINST her, (not just FOR her). And if the election is close (less than 8-percentage-point difference), she’ll at least take notice and maybe slow down her worst proposals, the same as Obama did.

    McMullin is a totally wasted vote, and he supports legalized gay marriage just like Clinton does anyway. A vote for McMullin is a vote for Creepy Hillary.

  52. Yes we know the fix is n which is why it will work against her. Don’t you pay attention to the wikileaks that state the fix is REAL?

  53. Thanks for being polite. In California, all electoral votes go to the candidate who wins the popular election. My vote will literally make no difference.

  54. Good for McMullin, and good for Utah for giving him as much support as they are. I just wish I could vote for him, but I’ll probably just have to settle for “none of the above” (an actual option on the ballot in my state). I just hope enough voters in Utah do the right thing to give him the state.

    8 I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.

    9 Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.

    10 Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.

  55. I would not be surprised that Trump was a Hilary operative, who ran to throw the election.

  56. Because the blue states got rich on the backs of the red states, they pay more taxes.

  57. We should all be repulsed by sin, any sin, whether we have sinned or someone else. Donald Trump is not the only one who has committed immorality. Remember that Jesus said that for a person to think lustfully about someone makes us just as guilty as if we had done the act.

    It is also sin to worship a counterfeit Christ (remember the first commandment). It is also sin to follow a false prophet who leads you away from the truth and to preach a false gospel (remember about bearing false witness and lying).


  58. That could also be true, however, how could McMullen possibly remedy if that were the case. His support nationwide is less than a percent. He’ll never even come close to seeing the white house in the presidential capacity. If he is that wonderful, the best thing he could do is run for congress and try to be voice for the people of Utah. All I’m saying is that we know and disagree on Hillary’s stance on multiple levels. Trump is a shot in the dark, never the less at least a shot.

  59. Yes, but in most states you can’t vote for any candidate you wish and have it counted — those that wish to have their write-in names counted have to register.

  60. Do you have anything to support your claim? Anything at all? Anything? ? ?

  61. Four years ago evangelicals said Romney and his Mormonism was a cult. It said so on Billy Grahams website. Now a Mormon is the evangelical savior? And yes, Trump is racist and misogynist but you don’t have to look very hard a Mormonism to also see rampant racism and misogyny.

  62. Utah turns on gop candidate I’ll boycott skiing there (which I love) forever. Damn weirdo hypocritics better pull their collective heretical heads out.

  63. 2 things.
    First, your comment does not support your earlier statement, “blue states got rich on the backs of the red states.”

    Second, it may be that those 3 blue states on your list would have a better income balance if they contributed less to red states and kept more money at home.

    Don’t forget, DC is controlled by our worthless and red Congress.

  64. The fact is, voting for third party means making it easier for Hillary to enter the White House. While Trump is transitory I believe, it will be easy to oust him if he becomes president and he proves he is no good. (majority Republicans and all Democrats against him).

    While this will be very difficult if not impossible to do with Hillary as president. And you would have to wait another 4 years and start the whole struggle again to fight the rigged system.
    This is how we got Obama in 2008, because many conservatives not voting for Mitt Romney. And the irony is these conservatives were the first to start complaining about Obama, with Hillary it will be worse.
    This sounds like revenge, but unfortunately these people will suffer themselves at the hands of Democrats!
    I dont want to have it on my concions that I didnt vote for the party that could have beaten Hillary Clinton.

    God have mercy on us!

  65. I have control over one vote. Mine. I have control over one person’s opinion. Mine. I am accountable to God for MY choices. To try to play my vote so that one candidate will win the presidency is at best foolish and at worst mocks the sacred gift God has given me.

  66. Not sure what you mean, but I can’t see Jesus voting for someone who defends coarse, vulgar talk as justifiable because its normal in a locker room conversation because the other candidate is worse. I want to tell God when I die that I voted my conscience. I want men of God to rise up and shout that men should be better than locker room talk, most of all the leader of our country!

  67. Thanks Bill. I won’t vote for Hilary either, but I can’t control how other people vote. Right now I feel my duty is to vote for Evan McMullin, a man whose words and actions show him to be a man of integrity. I wish you the best of luck though, Bill.

  68. With the Glen Beck, Slade Gorton, and Meghan McCain endorsements, he is not so unknown anymore. Plus every major network and many smaller conservative stations are having him on regularly.

  69. I will admit to being disappointed that McMullin didn’t win Utah, though I never thought he had a real chance at the presidency — a miracle to be hoped for but not expected. But I am proud that nationwide Mormons are a full twenty points below the evangelicals in our support for Trump and another ten points below that in Utah, proud that Trump got well below 50% of the vote in Utah with over a third of Mormons in the state voting for someone other than him or Clinton. When the disasters I pray don’t come but are probably as likely as McMullin NOT becoming president roll in, we’ll be able to say that more Mormons than any other predominantly Conservative group opposed Trump.

  70. You can appose him all you want but you will have to address him as Mr President. I hope no Mormons try and take credit for the Supreme Court appointees Trump will have–if we left it up to you there would be no chance of overturning abortion–so in my eyes your logic makes no sense. Have a good day.

  71. Why would I oppose him now, so long as he actually acts as the Conservative he sometimes pretended to be during the campaign? I will certainly pray that he and the Republican Congress working together can accomplish much good. But in the long run, character will out. We’ve elected our own Alcibiades, and I just pray that Trump shares that man’s competence as well as his ambition, lack of honor and sexual appetites.

  72. Doug,
    I also pray for him and wish the best–Just frustrated by all the people against him and were willing to hand Clinton the election just because their feelings were hurt–I am just glad that most of us stayed true to the importance of his victory for the Supreme Court–Hard to believe people from my point of view!

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