Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

Committee Chair(s)

Damon Cann


Damon Cann


Josh Ryan


Randy Simmons


Third parties in the United States face a litany of obstacles to electoral success. Duverger’s Law explains that single-member, plurality-based elections will favor a two party system. However, on rare occasion a third party candidate is able to do abnormally well, even winning elections on occasion. Evan McMullin presents a unique success story among third party campaigns. He is without the name recognition, strong financial backing, or political experience that most successful third party candidates have. Despite these challenges, he became the second most successful third party presidential candidate in the history of the state of Utah. Evan McMullin’s success is hypothesized as a defection of active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, due to a Republican Party candidate selection failure. This short term major party failure revealed cleavages between this religious voting bloc and the Republican Party at large. Based on this research, analysis of other voting blocs traditionally loyal to either major party could be examined, and other potential defections from the party in the future could be predicted.