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My view: Vote Utah’s conscience: Evan McMullin, not Donald Trump, is the candidate worth rallying around

FILE — Evan McMullin, left, who's running for the Independent Presidential Bid, shakes hands with reporter, Lisa Roche during a meeting with the Deseret News and KSL editorial board in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
FILE — Evan McMullin, left, who's running for the Independent Presidential Bid, shakes hands with reporter, Lisa Roche during a meeting with the Deseret News and KSL editorial board in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.
Weston Kenney, Deseret News

The math is straightforward: Of the 27 percent of Utahns who stated an opinion about conservative presidential candidate Evan McMullin in a recent poll, a majority — 62 percent — have a favorable opinion of him. In contrast, of the 92 percent who stated an opinion about Donald Trump, only 33 percent had a favorable opinion of him.

And it is not a stretch to predict that McMullin will be liked by a majority of all Utahns on Election Day, while Trump will be disliked by nearly two-thirds of Utahns on Election Day. McMullin — not Trump — reflects Utah’s values:

  • Utahns place a high premium on honesty. But Donald Trump’s record on honesty is simply bad. As the Deseret News editorial board once wrote about one of his lies, it can be more generally said: “The fact that (many of his statements are) provably false doesn’t seem to matter to the GOP front-runner.” In contrast, Evan McMullin spent a decade working at the CIA, an organization that surely requires high levels of honesty.
  • Utahns tend to oppose Roe v. Wade and want to overturn it. Evan McMullin has promised to appoint pro-life judges and judges who adhere to the original intent of the Constitution. Donald Trump has contradicted himself on the abortion issue numerous times, and his pattern of dishonesty combined with his lack of knowledge of why originalist judges are crucial are good reasons to expect that his promise to appoint originalist judges will never be realized. (Libertarian Gary Johnson has even worse problems in this respect, as he supports abortion being legal under Roe v. Wade).
  • Evan McMullin has spent years working with Muslims and attended school with conservative Christians — the two religious groups most frequently under attack today. Donald Trump’s stereotyping or worse of these very groups is deeply worrisome.

Further, 80 percent of Republicans did not vote for Trump in Utah’s caucuses, likely because of a combination of the above and other concerns. Yet Donald Trump, not Evan McMullin, leads polls for president in Utah. Part of this is surely due to Evan McMullin’s low name recognition, which will soon change.

Another part of this is fear of a Hillary Clinton victory. These fears are fair. As other commentators have noted, Ms. Clinton is not a shining pillar on issues of honesty, life, or religious freedom. I will not engage here in the debate on which candidate — Trump or Clinton — is worse for the nation. What concerns me is that Utah seems poised to pick a man that nearly two-thirds of them disapprove of —Trump — over a man that more Utahns will approve of — McMullin — on Election Day.

Our nation’s electoral college system means that Utah’s vote will impact only who wins Utah’s electoral votes — a close race in Florida or in the national popular vote does not imply Utahns would have more of an impact on the election. Thus, Utahns should focus on ensuring a good leader receives their electoral votes.

With all due respect, Hillary Clinton is extremely unlikely to win Utah. The latest poll shows her getting 24 percent of the vote, almost identical to the 25 percent her husband Bill received in his first presidential race. This also matches the fact that 80 percent of the voters in the Utah caucus rejected Hillary Clinton. Even assuming she’ll get more votes (say 27-30 percent) and that other third parties will get some votes, the remaining 60-70 percent of the vote is high enough for both Evan McMullin and Donald Trump to beat her. Indeed, Ross Perot and George H. Bush beat Bill Clinton in Utah in 1992.

Even setting that aside, the 60-plus days remaining in the election are ample time to eliminate the fear of Clinton winning Utah. In game theory, there is a philosophy called the prisoners’ dilemma. In it, two prisoners decline to work together to reduce their sentence time because of fear that the other one will betray their agreement. Likewise, I suspect some reluctant Trump supporters are declining to vote for McMullin out of fear that other people won’t vote for McMullin and will vote for Trump. But we have time to talk to each other and unite around McMullin.

So to the reluctant Trump supporters, I make a simple plea: Utahns will lose if you vote for a candidate they dislike as a whole instead of a candidate they like as a whole, when both would beat Hillary Clinton. Please vote your conscience, not your fears.

Michael Worley is a Utahn by birth and by residence.