In 2012, some on the left did it, and now it’s the turn of some on the right to flirt with anti-Mormon prejudice. That’s the question that needs to be asked after seeing the reaction to Fox Business Network anchor Lou Dobbs’ tweet, in which he branded independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin part of a “Globalist, Romney and Mormon Mafia Tool.”

What exactly did Dobbs mean by the since-deleted tweet? It’s hard to say exactly. But it does indicate two things: One is that McMullin is a genuine threat to swipe the reddest of red states—Mormon-dominated Utah—from the Republican nominee. The other is that to rabid Trump supporters like Dobbs, and perhaps to others in his large following who have long cheered his dogmatic opposition to immigration, there may be no limits to how low they may sink in order to pursue their vendetta against anti-Trump Republicans.

The last three Utah polls show McMullin narrowly trailing Trump in two of them and leading by four percentage points in another with Hillary Clinton stuck in third place.

Why is McMullin a threat in his native Utah and nowhere else? The explanations tend to revolve around both his Mormon faith and its influence on the opinions of the state’s voters. While the majority of Republicans—including evangelical Christians—appear to be ready to accept a candidate in Trump whose behavior is an affront to their sense of decency, Utahans see it differently. Unlike other conservatives who have decided that all that stuff thinkers like William Bennett wrote in the 1990s about virtue and the death of outrage was only applicable to Bill Clinton, many of Utah’s Mormons think it goes for Republicans, too. So approximately a third of the state’s voters and perhaps half of the Republicans may be willing to cast a protest vote for McMullin and deprive the GOP nominee of Utah’s six Electoral College votes.

In a race in which Trump is hard-pressed to hold nominally Republican strongholds like Arizona, Georgia, and even Texas, Utah shouldn’t matter. But while it’s hard to see a path to 270 votes for Trump under any circumstances, even far-fetched scenarios for his victory require him to win all the red states, including Utah. That’s why the GOP dispatched Mike Pence (as opposed to Trump or any surrogate closely associated with him) to the Great Salt Lake region this week to try and rally the party faithful. But the subtext to this effort to squelch the McMullin insurgency is that it has given an already deeply angry group of Trump supporters around the nation yet another scapegoat for their hero’s impending defeat.

We already knew that Mormons are the easiest group in America to insult. Broadway proved it with a megahit musical satire—The Book of Mormon—that would have never seen the light of day if the butt of its humor were Muslims. As we saw in 2012 when the left and the Barack Obama campaign flirted at times with stoking anti-Mormon prejudice and supposedly even some evangelicals justified staying home because of Mitt Romney’s faith, the national press was uninterested in reporting on let alone expressing outrage about such efforts. Not even Catholics and Jews, who are sometimes targeted by an intolerant left, are as vulnerable in this regard as Mormons, who have turned the other cheek and answered insult with tolerance, kindness, and good humor.

Trump supporters are already making lists of enemies they will blame for his defeat. But unlike conservative pundits, who have little if any power, and a GOP establishment that largely kowtowed to Trump when they might have stopped him, Utah’s voters actually have the ability to inflict a particularly bitter humiliation on the reality star. So it is hardly surprising to see some in the Trump camp, who have already stoked prejudice and dog-whistled to racists and anti-Semites, stoop to flinging insults at Mormons.

A candidate who rants about global banking conspiracies shouldn’t be shocked if some in his camp, even among his media cheerleaders, vent about a mythical Mormon mafia. If McMullin succeeds in Utah, expect to hear, read, and see more of this garbage.

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