Politics

Clinton Is Now Tied With Trump In Red-Voting Utah

| by Nik Bonopartis
The Salt Lake City Temple.The Salt Lake City Temple.

Five days after the public heard an 11-year-old recording of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump bragging about groping women, political polls are beginning to measure the impact of that tape on the businessman's campaign -- and it's not good news for Trump.

Perhaps the worst news for Trump is in Utah, where conservative Mormon voters never fully warmed to the New York real estate mogul. While most polls show Trump with at least a small lead in the state, a new poll from a little-known Utah firm shows the candidates in a dead heat.

That poll, by Salt Lake City-based Y2 Analytics, has Trump and Clinton tied with 26 percent support among Utah voters, Politico reported. That's a major setback for Republicans in a state that hasn't gone for a Democratic presidential nominee since 1964, when incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson swept 44 states to defeat Republican Barry Goldwater.

Support for the two major-party candidates has been eroded in Utah, thanks in part to the presence of former congressman Evan McMullin and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. McMullin is a Utah native and graduate of Brigham Young University who also served as a CIA operations officer.

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McMullin is little-known outside of Utah, but enjoys the support of 24 percent of voters there, according to the Y2 Analytics poll. Johnson trails with 12 percent support in Utah.

Trump, who also struggled in the majority-Mormon state in the Republican primaries, suffered further setbacks in the chain reaction set off by the Oct. 7 release of the tape. Trump's lewd comments, in which he describes forcing himself on women and grabbing them by their genitals, led to more Republicans disavowing him and withdrawing their support for his presidential campaign.

Most notably, House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan raised the white flag in a conference call with congressional Republicans, giving them the green light to distance themselves from Trump as they fight tough battles against Democratic challengers.

Addressing those congressmen on a conference call, Ryan said that they "all need to do what's best for you and your district," meaning they are free to disavow the presidential candidate, especially in districts where being associated with Trump is a liability.

But it wasn't just Ryan and high-profile Republican officials who ditched the Trump train -- Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Rep. Mia Love, and Sen. Mike Lee all dropped their support for Trump in the fallout from the explosive tape.

While the Utah state GOP remained defiant, with state party chairman James Evans reaffirming his support for the New York businessman, the loss of support from prominent Utah Republicans could partly explain Trump's sliding poll numbers there.

Evans relayed a Trump apology in a news release, according to KSTU:

Donald Trump has apologized for his comments eleven years ago when he was in the environment of Hollywood and the political left. He has professed on many occasions he is not proud of some of his past, and that his heart has changed and he is a better person now. We condemn the degradation of women in any form and condemn the comments he made in this recording. However, I accept Mr. Trump’s profession and trust he is demonstrating the change in his heart today; and I support him as our Republican nominee.

Chaffetz, who has been one of the GOP's most consistent attack dogs against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, told CNN on Oct. 8: "So I'm not going to put my good name and reputation and my family behind Donald Trump when he acts like this, I just can't do it."

"My wife, Julia and I, we have a 15-year-old daughter," Chaffetz told CNN anchor Don Lemon. "Do you think I can look her in the eye and tell her that I endorsed Donald Trump for president when he acts like this and his apology? That was no apology, that was an apology for getting caught."

Sources: Politico, CNN, KSTU / Photo credit: Scott Catron/Flickr

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