Despite the outcome of the election, the presidential candidate on the ballot whose positions and values were clearly most representative of the majority of Utahns was Evan McMullin. Unfortunately, Utah voters relegated him to third place, and the state lost the opportunity to reject the morally repugnant Trump and refuse to gamble on his dubious recent conversion from big government liberal to principled conservative.
Although some Utah voters truly embraced Trump, McMullin’s poor performance was mainly the result of an unfounded fear: that a vote for McMullin was a vote for Clinton. Repeated frequently, this erroneous claim was widely accepted as an undeniable fact. Most people realize that the only true vote for Clinton is a vote with her name on it, but it is understandable that anti-Trump conservatives in some states held their noses and strategically voted for Trump to reduce the probability of a Clinton victory (or in a smaller number of cases, voted for Clinton to reduce the probability of a Trump victory).
Utah conservatives, however, had the luxury of living in a state in which Clinton never had a chance. The election results show that even in the worst possible scenario of McMullin and Trump evenly dividing their combined vote, they each would have had more votes than Clinton.
Informed voters could have predicted Clinton’s inability to win Utah by looking at pre-election poll numbers that gave her an extremely low probability of an upset and that showed the combined Trump/McMullin vote at more than double the Clinton vote. With some basic math, conservatives should have realized they could have given Utah’s electoral votes to McMullin, and if none of the three candidates obtained an electoral college majority, McMullin would have had the opportunity to make a strong case that the House of Representatives select him as President.
Instead, at the last minute many of these voters fearfully fled to Donald Trump in droves. In hindsight, the election was not going to be decided by pivotal Utah electoral votes. Even so, Utah failed to send a message to America that we deserve better than Donald Trump. Thanks to uninformed voters and inexcusable, flawed logic on McMullin/Clinton vote equivalency, the state of Utah lost an opportunity to make a difference. Maybe we are getting the president we deserve.