Evan McMullin rocked the presidential race when he announced his candidacy on August 8, 2016. Only three days later, McMullin announced that he had been added to the ballot in Colorado. At this point, few Americans have heard of McMullin, much less know what he stands for. Who is he? What is he about? Does he have a chance?
Evan McMullin is a graduate of Brigham Young University where he earned a degree in International Law and Diplomacy. He also has an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, the same school where Donald Trump got his undergraduate degree.
After graduating from college, McMullin went to work for the CIA as an undercover Operations Officer in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. From 2011 to 2013, he worked for Goldman Sachs as an investment banker. In 2013, he became an advisor to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and eventually became the chief policy director for the House Republican Conference. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Is McMullin trying to throw the race for Hillary? On Fox News, McMullin said, “Donald Trump is already losing this election. I entered the race six days ago when he was down ten points at the national level. State polls in critical states over the past couple of days show that he’s even further down in them. Donald Trump has no chance of winning this election. He has alienated too wide a swath of the American population. He continues to put his foot in his mouth. He will not win. He’s weak and I think he’s melting down…. He is ensuring that Hillary Clinton is our next president.”
But does McMullin have a chance of winning? Because of his late entry to the race, McMullin will not be on the ballot in all states. At best, he would be able to petition for ballot access in about half the states according to election expert Richard Winger. Winger also says that the McMullin campaign might sue states with earlier deadlines and win a spot on the ballot in those states.
McMullin also said that he is working with third parties to gain ballot access in some states. In Minnesota, the Independence Party of Minnesota nominated him as their candidate, guaranteeing him a place on the ballot according to The Hill. At this point, it is too early to tell if McMullin will be able to get on the ballot in enough states to make a difference.
McMullin told Fox, “There are many ways we can win. One way is through the House. I think it is unlikely that we will reach 270 [electoral votes]… but, if we prevent both Hillary and Donald Trump from reaching that threshold as well, we can take it to the House.” Under the Constitution, the House of Representatives decides elections in which no candidate receives a majority of votes from the Electoral College.
“The other thing is that I don’t know if Trump is going to make it through,” McMullin continued. “I think he is in the middle of serious meltdown right now as is his entire campaign. I don’t know if he’s going to make it and I don’t know how long RNC support lasts or under what terms, but he is very fragile right now.” If Trump quits the race or is forced out, some combination of Evan McMullin and Mike Pence would be the logical choice to replace him.
McMullin’s chief advantage is the unpopularity and divisiveness of both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. In an interview with Now This Election, McMullin said, “We have Bernie Sanders supporters reaching out to us saying, ‘We don’t agree with everything, all of your policy positions,’ but they talk about honesty. They want someone who is honest with the American people. They want someone who is going to bring us together and someone who is not going to perpetuate a system of government in Washington where insiders flourish and regular Americans have no voice. That’s our message and I think it’s resonating across the country.”
Evan McMullin is a long shot candidate. Then again, so is Donald Trump. Evan McMullin might prove to be a viable choice for conservatives who cannot support Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Gary Johnson. This is an election year in which normal rules do not apply.
In a future article, we will look at Evan McMullin’s position on the issues.