Here's the main reason anti-Trump Republicans' new candidate is dead on arrival

Evan mcmullinEvan McMullin/TwitterFormer CIA official Evan McMullin is expected to announce an independent presidential bid.

After months of fretting and attempting to persuade candidates to run, anti-Donald Trump Republicans finally have their candidate.

Former CIA operative and House Republican staffer Evan McMullin announced on Monday that he’s mounting an independent bid for presidency in response to what he characterises as Trump’s “personal instability” and “infatuation with strongmen.”

Despite reports that some high-profile GOP donors are prepared to back his candidacy, McMullin’s announcement was met with amusement and deep scepticism from many political operatives and observers. Many noted that not only does McMullin face steep institutional challenges — he’s relatively unknown even in Republican circles.

“I don’t really know anything about McMullin other than his name, his prior job, and that he doesn’t have much of a social media footprint, though that right there means I know more about him than 99.999% of America,” said Liz Mair, a Republican strategist who is backing Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson.

McMullin’s greatest obstacle is obvious: At this point, it’s impossible for him to get on the ballot in over two dozen states. And in a handful of states like California, McMullin would need tens or hundreds of thousands of signatures in just weeks in order to qualify, a virtually impossible task for a candidate without a national campaign organisation.

Still, some observers noted on Monday that he may have some success in states like Utah, which has a low barrier-to-entry for candidates. A traditionally red state where Trump remains deeply unpopular, most recent polls show Clinton slightly leading the Republican presidential nominee.

Mair, a longtime Trump critic, acknowledged that there’s an appetite among disenchanted Republicans for a more traditional conservative candidate with foreign policy credentials.

“I suspect ballot access will be a big challenge, as will the name ID point, but look, anyone who wants to deprive Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump of votes sounds like an upright, ethical person,” Mair said. “I suspect he’ll get some votes from more super-high-information, politically-connected, hawkish Republicans who would otherwise be voting for Hillary Clinton at this stage.”

Here are the states McMullin can no longer qualify for the ballot, according to Ballotpedia:

  • Arkansas

  • Delaware

  • Florida

  • Georgia

  • Illinois

  • Indiana

  • Kansas

  • Louisiana

  • Maine

  • Maryland

  • Massachusetts

  • Missouri

  • Nebraska

  • Nevada

  • New Jersey

  • North Carolina

  • Oklahoma

  • Pennsylvania

  • South Carolina

  • South Dakota

  • Texas

  • Vermont

  • Washington

  • West Virginia

  • Wisconsin

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