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Three new polls show Donald Trump surging in Utah and independent candidate Evan McMullin sliding in the final days of this presidential contest.
The Monmouth University Poll found Trump at 37 percent, followed by Democrat Hillary Clinton at 31 percent and McMullin at 24 percent.
A Rasmussen poll had Trump at 42, Clinton with 31 and McMullin at 21.
And an Emerson College poll shows Trump at 40, McMullin with 28 and Clinton at 20.
These new bombshell results, all released Thursday, are far different than a series of recent polls showing a statistical tie in Utah, and more polling is expected in the next few days. But at this stage, it appears that McMullin's renegade bid has hit a wall, blunting his chance at making some history in Utah.
"It's been nearly 50 years since a third-party candidate won any state's electoral votes. That streak should remain intact," said Patrick Murray, Monmouth's polling director. "While McMullin has cut into Trump's partisan support, the independent candidate has not broken out of third place."
Trump supporters have tried to reclaim disaffected Republicans in recent days, including a visit last week by vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, who asked conservative voters to "come home." Just a few days ago, high-profile supporters like Sen. Orrin Hatch and Reps. Rob Bishop and Chris Stewart headlined a rally at Utah's Capitol. And Rep. Jason Chaffetz announced that he would vote for Trump, after previously pulling his endorsement.
Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, a vocal Trump backer, thought Pence's visit was an important turning point in the race here, as was the FBI's announcement that it is investigating emails found on a laptop that may be connected to a private server Clinton used while serving as secretary of state.
"Whether we like it or not, it raises the stakes in this race," Hughes said. "I am relieved and glad to hear these polls. My thought has always been you've got to be in the game here. You've got to pick between the two people who could be president."
McMullin, a Mormon born in Provo, has argued that he's the only conservative in the race and has tried to siphon support from Trump, whom he's called a racist. His long-shot hope of becoming president is based on winning Utah and denying Trump and Clinton the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, forcing the House of Representatives to pick a winner.
McMullin brushed aside the most recent poll numbers.
"We're the only campaign running a real ground game in Utah and talking directly to thousands of Utah citizens every day," he said in an email. "We believe momentum is on our side and that a majority of Utahns are rejecting Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton."
The new polls showed Trump winning by big margins with Republicans, and Monmouth found him ahead not only with independents, but also with Mormon voters a finding that clashes with a recent Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute poll.
That poll, conducted by Dan Jones & Associates from Oct. 20-27, had Trump leading McMullin by just two percentage points overall, while Trump was beating Clinton by eight. It also showed McMullin leading Trump among Mormon voters, with Clinton trailing far behind.
Trump has not been popular in Utah throughout this election season, but the state didn't become an unexpected battleground until the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape showing Trump back in 2005 boasting of aggressive sexual behavior toward women.
Since early October, there have been 13 polls of Utah. McMullin led in one, while in recent polls Trump has held a small lead, roughly two or three percentage points, often within the margin of error. That was before Thursday's results.
The Monmouth poll interviewed 402 likely voters Oct. 30-Nov. 2. It has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
This poll found that one-third of likely Utah voters have already cast their ballots and, among those, Clinton held a 43 percent to 33 percent lead over Trump, while McMullin had received just 16 percent of votes already in.
Of those who have not yet voted, Trump was ahead 39 percent to McMullin's 29 percent and just 24 percent for Clinton.
The Democrat has had far more consistent polling numbers in Utah and hasn't led in any recent polls, though Clinton hasn't given up on the state. Anne Holton, the wife of vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, will campaign in Utah on Friday, marking the last day for early voting in the state.
The Rasmussen poll, known for being conservative, took place Oct. 29-31 and included 750 likely voters. It had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
The Emerson poll took place Nov. 1-2, involving 1,000 likely voters and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.