Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah is in a close battle for reelection against independent candidate Evan McMullin, according to a poll released Monday.
Though Lee leads with 41% support among registered votes, McMullin is close behind him at 37%, per the poll conducted by Dan Jones and Associates for the Deseret News and the Hinckley Institute of Politics, with about 12% of respondents undecided. Lee is running for a third term in the Senate, and his campaign has largely skirted references to McMullin, instead focusing on the Biden administration and his record in the chamber since 2011.
McMullin’s surge in support as an independent is unusual given Utah’s reliably Republican character; the state has a Cook Partisan Voting Index score of R+13 and is rated as “Likely Republican” by Sabato’s Crystal Ball.
ICYMI: Our campaign just launched an ad responding to out-of-state special interest group @club4growth‘s doctored video.
Will you please like or retweet now to help spread the word to Utahns?pic.twitter.com/nbcIwACjmd
— Evan McMullin 🇺🇸 (@EvanMcMullin) October 6, 2022
The state’s Democratic Party declined to nominate a candidate and endorsed McMullin on Apr. 25 by a 57% vote at their convention after concluding that a Democrat could not win the race. McMullin accepted the endorsement and said that Utah Democrats were “putting country over party.”
Lee currently leads McMullin by an average of 4.8%, according RealClearPolitics’s polling average. (RELATED: ‘Based Mike Lee’ Twitter Account Actually Run By Sen. Mike Lee)
McMullin, a former CIA operations officer and registered Republican until 2016, calls himself a conservative and is a prominent anti-Trump voice in the state. McMullin’s campaign has centered on his opposition to former President Donald Trump and Lee’s support for him, particularly following the 2020 presidential election, where he contacted Trump’s advisors as part of efforts to overturn the election results; text messages between Lee and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows show Lee writing that he was working “14-hour days” on Trump’s legal efforts and lobbied for attorney Sidney Powell to gain access to Trump.
“Lee knows his support is slipping, and he’s relying on his extremist friends and special interest groups to help him hold his seat. We can’t let them win,” McMullin wrote on Twitter, following Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas’ visit to the state to hold a fundraiser for Lee.
Trump mocked McMullin in a statement endorsing Lee, Trump nicknamed him “McMuffin” – an English muffin sold at McDonald’s restaurants – and said he would be a “disaster for the state.”
McMullin and Lee’s campaigns did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
The poll surveyed 801 registered voters and had a margin of error of 3.6%.
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