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The Curious Case of Evan McMullin

A glance at this maverick's campaign

Evan McMullin campaigning in Provo, Utah

Evan McMullin campaigning in Provo, Utah

Dwayne McMillion, Staff Writer

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The only independent to ever win the presidency was our first president, George Washington. However, that might change this year as conservatives are faced with another option in this election: Evan McMullin.

Evan McMullin, 40, is a young independent candidate in the presidental campaign. He stands among the major party and the three primary third-party candidates as the most popular choices by voters. A former CIA operative, investment banker, and chief policy director for the House Republican Conference, McMullin launched his campaign in August of 2016 to serve as a protest vote against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Since then, he’s surged in popularity in numerous Midwestern states, particularly his home state of Utah.

Conventionally, Evan McMullin has no chance of winning the presidency. He is only on the ballot in eleven states and available for write-in in twenty-seven others. However, there is a curious path to victory for the McMullin campaign. If no candidate manages to reach 270 electoral college votes, the president is chosen by the House of Representatives. Evan McMullin—or any third-party, independent, or write-in candidate for that matter—could make that happen by winning just one key state. Should the Democrats take control of the House, the president would almost certainly be Hillary, but if the Republicans retain control, it’s a wild card.

This is an ambitious strategy. No independent candidate in American history has ever carried a state. However, Evan McMullin is giving Donald Trump stiff competition in Utah, having beaten him in at least one poll. His support among the Mormon community has undoubtedly been a factor in it.

Should McMullin win a state, however, he would still need to compete against more well-known candidates such as Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, and Hillary Clinton (all of whom he’s been very critical of), assuming that the Republicans retain control of the House. However, his pro-life and pro-military stances could woo Republicans, and his anti-torture and stance on foreign intervention could make him a good choice for compromise among a divided Congress.

Whoever wins, however, there is no doubt that this election is one of the most turbulent in American history. In very few elections prior could a candidate start his campaign three months prior to the election and have a clear path to the presidency. The conditions are just right in this political climate. It’s up to McMullin to seize the opportunity.

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The Curious Case of Evan McMullin