CNN exit poll: Registered Republicans break for Trump, while undeclared voters back Haley in New Hampshire primary

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A polling booth inside a Plymouth Elementary School in New Hampshire on Tuesday, January 23, 2024.



CNN

New Hampshire GOP primary voters are sharply divided on now-familiar partisan and academic fallacies, according to early results from CNN's exit poll for the presidential race.

An exit poll found that registered Republican voters overwhelmingly support former President Donald Trump, with three-quarters supporting him. Voters registered as undeclared voters — the state's term for independent voters — backed former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Trump will win the primary CNN projects.

Tuesday's voter turnout was relatively closely split between voters registered as Republicans and those registered as undeclared. And there was a sharp educational divide among the state's GOP primary voters, echoing the divide often seen in the Republican Party. Two-thirds of voters without a college degree supported Trump, while 6 in 10 among college graduates supported Haley.

A majority of primary voters said they would be satisfied with Trump winning the Republican nomination this year, and nearly half said they thought he would be fit for the presidency if convicted of a crime.

Exit polls are a valuable tool for understanding the demographics and political views of primary voters. However, like all polls, polls are estimates, not accurate measurements of voters. This is especially true for the initial set of exit poll numbers, which have not yet been weighted to match the final primary results. But the results provide a glimpse into the types of voters who participate.

Preliminary results show nearly two-thirds of primary voters describe themselves as conservative, about a quarter call themselves very conservative, while 3 in 10 describe themselves as moderate.

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Most said they did not consider themselves part of the MAGA movement, citing the “Make America Great Again” slogan popularized by Trump in 2016. Nearly half said they believe President Joe Biden's victory over Trump four years ago was legitimate. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Those numbers make for a significantly different background than they are Caucuses of Iowa, nearly 9 in 10 described themselves as conservative — a position often associated with support for the former president in this election cycle. Nearly half of Iowa caucus attendees identified themselves as MAGA, and about two-thirds disapproved of the legitimacy of Biden's 2020 victory.

In New Hampshire, Trump voters and supporters of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley differed sharply in their attitudes toward the candidate of their choice. A majority of voters who supported Trump—roughly 8 in 10—said they voted for a candidate they “strongly preferred,” with only a few saying they preferred Trump with reservations or that their votes were largely driven by dislike of his rivals.

By contrast, 4 in 10 Haley voters in New Hampshire said their support for her was mostly distasteful to her opponents, about 3 in 10 said they liked her with reservations, and only a third strongly supported Haley.

Trump and Haley voters, however, were unhappy to see the Republican Party appoint a rival to their chosen candidate. 8 in 10 Trump voters said they would be unhappy if Haley won the nomination, and 9 in 10 Haley voters said they would be unhappy if Trump won a third nomination.

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Seven in 10 New Hampshire voters who support Trump say they are registered Republicans. 8 in 10 of Trump's voters disapprove of the legitimacy of Biden's election victory in 2020, highlighting widespread electoral disaffection among his supporters. Haley's supporters present a near mirror image: 7 in 10 said they registered as undeclared before Tuesday, and a majority agreed with the 2020 election results.

As in Iowa, New Hampshire's Republican primary voters are closely split between immigration and the economy, less likely to cite abortion or foreign policy as their top concern.

Most, 7 in 10, describe the state of the economy as either not so good or not so good. More than half say they want to see most undocumented immigrants in the U.S. deported back to their countries of origin. In contrast to Iowa, a majority of voters in New Hampshire say they oppose a federal ban on most or all abortions.

Voters are split on America's role abroad, with roughly 4 in 10 saying they want the country to take a less active role, 3 in 10 saying they want a more active role, and the rest roughly staying the same.

New Hampshire's Republican presidential primary poll was conducted by Edison Research on behalf of the National Election Commission. It includes 2,029 interviews with Republican primary voters in 40 different polling places. Results for the full sample have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.0 percentage points; This is great for subgroups.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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