The 2016 presidential campaign of Evan McMullin was announced on August 8, 2016. Evan McMullin, the former chief policy director for the House Republican Conference and a former CIA operations officer, ran as an independent candidate.
The controversial candidacy of Donald Trump for the Republican Party nomination caused the creation of the Stop Trump movement, which sought to stop his nomination or find a candidate to oppose him. After months of unsuccessful searching, Evan McMullin decided to run as a conservative alternative candidate based on Trump's divisive comments on a variety of issues, calling him a potential threat to the Republic.
McMullin announced his presidential candidacy in a letter on his website on August 8, 2016, calling himself a conservative alternative to Republican nominee Donald Trump.
On October 6, McMullin announced that Mindy Finn would be his running mate. Finn did not appear on most ballots with McMullin; instead, paper candidate Nathan Johnson of San Diego, California was listed as his running mate. McMullin had not chosen a running mate at the time he filed for ballot access in most states and used Johnson, a personal friend of his, as a name on the ballot.
Following the release of crude recordings by Donald Trump on October 7, McMullin surged in the polls in Utah—tying statistically with Trump and Hillary Clinton at 22%, 26%, and 26%, respectively, with Libertarian Gary Johnson also performing strongly at 14%. Further strong polling in Utah, in some cases showing McMullin at or near the lead, led to FiveThirtyEight calling him the "third-most likely person to be the next president of the United States" as of October 13. An Emerson College poll later that month showed McMullin leading Utah by four points, with 31% of the vote, Trump at 27%, and Clinton at 24%. McMullin's popularity in Utah - and Trump's unpopularity - appears owing to an unusual shift of Mormons away from the Republican candidate. If McMullin had succeeded in winning Utah or any other state, it would have marked the first time since the 1968 presidential campaign of George Wallace that a candidate not nominated by the Democratic or Republican parties had won a state and claimed its electoral votes.
While McMullin was not on enough state ballots to win an outright majority in the Electoral College (barring carrying other states by write-in), had he carried any state he could theoretically have prevented any candidate from amassing the 270 votes necessary to win the presidency. In that event, the United States House of Representatives would meet to elect the President, and would be bound to choose from the top three presidential candidates in terms of electoral votes. In this event, barring another third-party candidate taking more electoral votes or an organized bloc of faithless electors larger than McMullin's choosing another candidate, the House would presumably have been bound to choose between Clinton, Trump and McMullin.
In late August 2016, polling nationwide and in most states placed McMullin in the 1-2% range. Late October polls in Idaho showed McMullin with about 10% of the vote, while during the same period in Utah polls showed him with between 20% and 30% of the vote. In one Utah poll conducted by Emerson College in late October, he was leading both Trump and Clinton with 31% compared to 27% and 24% respectively.
On Election Day, McMullin took the fifth-largest number of votes nationally with slightly over 700,000 votes. His biggest percentage total came in his home state of Utah, where he had 21% in a third-place finish. McMullin took more Utah votes than Gary Johnson, who also had his campaign headquarters in Utah. He finished over 350,000 votes ahead of the Constitution Party candidate Darrell Castle but over 800,000 less than 4th-place finisher Jill Stein.