Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin speaks to his supporters in Salt Lake City during an election night watch party. McMullin, a Utah native, racked up 21 percent of the vote in his home state, which Donald Trump still won by 18 percent over Hillary Clinton (46 percent to 28 percent).

Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

I continue to dig into the quagmire that was the 2016 presidential election. Again, my intent is not to question the outcome. It’s WHY things turned out that way, what the numbers show and why pollsters were so wrong.

Here are some nuggets I have uncovered since my last report:

• Hillary Clinton's popular vote lead has grown to 1.2 million, with a percentage edge greater than the lead Kennedy finished with against Nixon in 1960 and Nixon finished with vs. Humphrey in 1968. The difference is that Kennedy also won the electoral college vote in 1960 ... as did Nixon in 1968. Will we see cries for an end for the electoral college? Haven't heard many.

• One-third of the 676 counties that supported Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 went for Trump in 2016. So reported San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra J. Saunders in a column the Gazette-Times and Democrat-Herald published Wednesday, who added "All racists, eh?"

• Hillary Clinton, Time magazine noted, made no general election campaign stops in Wisconsin, a state the Democrats had not lost since the Reagan re-election landslide in 1984. Trump won by 27,000 votes (48 percent to 47 percent). Nearly 3 million votes were cast.

• Time again: Of the 60 percent of voters who had an unfavorable view of Trump, 15 percent voted for him anyway. Of the 50 percent of women voters who said they were “bothered” by Trump’s treatment of women … 11 percent of them still pulled the switch for him.

• According to Frank Luntz, a polling analyst for Fox News and CBS, “Trump voters weren’t lying to the pollsters or afraid to be counted. On Election Day and before, they simply refused to be polled. They refused to participate in a political exercise they saw as rigged against them.”

Another thread I have been analyzing is the influence of third-party candidates. Did they help put Trump over the top? Did they cost Clinton the election — as many believe Ralph Nader did with Al Gore in 2000? Absent exit polling of those who backed alternatives to the Republicans and Democrats we can’t know for sure, but here are some states in which it MIGHT have played a factor.

• Colorado. Clinton won by 3 percentage points, while third-party candidates totaled 7 percent.

• Florida. Trump won by 1 percent, with minor candidates totaling 3 percent.

• Maine. Clinton won by 3 percent. Minor candidates finished with 7 percent.

• Michigan. Trump leads this one by almost 12,000 votes (48 percent to 47 percent) and seems likely to win. Third-party total? More than 240,000 votes (5 percent).

• Minnesota. Clinton won by 2 percent. Minor candidates had 7 percent.

• Nevada. Clinton won by 2 percent. Minor candidates had 6 percent.

• New Hampshire. Clinton won by 1 percent. Minor candidates had 5 percent.

• Pennsylvania. Trump won by 1 percent. Third-party candidatess had 3 percent.

• Wisconsin. As noted above Trump won this one by 1 percent, with minor candidates polling 5 percent.

Clinton won five of the states, which yielded 33 electoral votes. Trump won four, but they were worth 75 electoral votes. And it's possible, obviously, that the voting patterns might not have been different in a two-person race.

Then there is Utah, my pick for the weirdest state of this election season. First, let’s run through the polls during the campaign.

• June 13. The Washington Post, in a story headlined “This new Utah poll is amazingly bad for Donald Trump” noted that a SurveyUSA/Salt Lake Tribune poll had the GOP and Democratic candidates tied with 35 percent of the vote, with Libertarian Gary Johnson at 13 percent.

• Oct. 13. With former CIA employee and independent Evan McMullin, a Utah native and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the race, a Deseret News poll had it 26 Trump, 26 Clinton. 22 McMullin and 14 for Johnson.

• Oct. 20. An Emerson College survey put McMullin in the lead at 31 percent, followed by Trump (27), Clinton (24) and Johnson (5).

• Nov. 3. Heat Street/Rasmussen Reports had Trump in front at 42 percent, with Clinton at 31 percent, McMullin at 21 percent and the fading Johnson at 3.

And that final one actually had it nailed pretty good. Although the Utah count is not final —  it was at 89 percent Monday and 94 percent Wednesday —  Trump has a wide lead at 46 percent, with Clinton at 28 percent and McMullin at 21 percent and Johnson at 3 percent.

Third-party candidates received 26 percent of the vote in Utah, higher than anywhere else. Idaho was at 13 percent (led by McMullin at 7) and New Mexico was at 11 (led by former Gov. Johnson at 9).

If you can know why Utah is only at 94 percent a week later or how Washington, a vote by mail state, is only at 91 percent … give me a call.

Contact reporter James Day at or 541-758-9542. Follow at or


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