The election is over and done with, and we finally have an answer to the most burning question of 2016, the question that’s been everyone’s mind for the better part of the last year. But even though there was only one winner, some might be wondering about the fringe candidates. Specifically, how many electors did Evan McMullin get?
The third-party candidate, who announced his candidacy in August as a last-minute conservative alternative to Donald Trump, didn’t win any electors. Despite a strong showing in Utah, the state in which he had the strongest chances of success, McMullin didn’t come in first place anywhere, and so he didn’t get any electoral votes. As such, 1968 is still the last presidential election in which a third-party candidate won any electoral votes.
But this doesn’t mean his campaign was a complete waste of time.
Before the election, McMullin made it clear that regardless of who the next president is, he intends to play a role in building a post-Trump conservative movement — either within the GOP or, if necessary, without it.
“Do we use [the energy behind my candidacy] to help reform the Republican Party, or do we start a new party?" McMullin asked in an interview with Newsy. “We don’t know yet, but I have serious doubts that the Republican Party is going to be able to make the changes it needs to make to be anything other than a white nationalist party into the future.”
The very existence of McMullin’s candidacy illustrates the massive divide Trump has opened up within the Republican Party. Trump’s embrace of white nationalism and political violence, coupled with his deviation from GOP orthodoxy on issues like trade and foreign policy, have alienated significant chunks of the Republican Party, leaving many Republicans with no party to call their home. McMullin wants to ensure that these conservatives aren’t alienated from the political process entirely.
Whether he’ll be successful is an open question. Although Trump has faced well-documented opposition from within the GOP, much of this opposition has come from what you might call the establishment — strategists, former officials, and other Republicans who actually work in politics. It’s still unclear whether or not the Republican rank-and-file is as disgusted by Trump as the party's elite.
Regardless, McMullin is well-positioned to lead the anti-Trump conservative movement. It'll be some time until we know how many conservatives are interested in following him.