The poll by Emerson College, released Wednesday, shows McMullin with a four-point lead over Trump - 31 percent to 27 percent.
Amid the raucous final phase of the presidential battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, independent candidate Evan McMullin has quietly crept into contention in the overlooked state of Utah - a development he hopes could lead to an Electoral College deadlock. McMullin is a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who served as the chief policy director at the House Republican Conference and worked briefly for Goldman Sachs after attending the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Emerson poll' result showing McMullin in the lead isn't particularly shocking because the Utah presidential race has been insane, fluid and unpredictable for months now.
"Because he's Mormon and because he represents that part of the Republican Party that really got left out of the primary election season this time, that Republicans are basically are looking for another Republican to vote for", said Emily Ellsworth founder of Utah Republican Women for Hillary Clinton.
This means that two and a half weeks before the election, a Utah victory is well within reach for McMullin, whose star is rising quickly even as Trump's is self-destructing. "They are supporting us. But actually, when write-in candidates have campaigns behind them, they can be successful, and we're a national campaign", McMullin said. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, and Payson Mayor Rick Moore.
"It's an absolute long shot and he admits that, but one thing he's talking about doing though is possibly starting a new movement, a conservative movement that's not part of the corruption of the two-party system now".
McMullin said that under Trump's leadership, the Republican Party has drifted away from that truth, and by helping increase the size of the federal government, has also drifted away from the cause of individual liberty. McMullin says he is a true conservative. "We weren't famous before we started so we've got a lot of explaining to do", he said. "We're pro-life and these are some of the ideals and values that we think many people in Idaho have". "We're all created equal'".
Trump has not been popular with Mormons, and a strong disavowal from 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who won Utah by about 50 points, has not helped him either. "Or they say it's a Republican state". Maybe there's a significant conservative minority in the state who quit the GOP recently because of Trump and now identify as independent. Mormons account for about two-thirds of Utah's 3 million residents.
There's no question the tone of the race - and the major party candidates - appear to be driving people McMullin's way more so than his faith.
"And I believe there's more compassion", McMullin said. "I don't believe abortion is good, that's a big one for us".
McMullin is registered in 15 states or so and plans to expand his reach before November 8.
"Whether we are the face or the leader, we will certainly continue with the movement", Finn said.