According to a new AWN Poll from the University of New Hampshire, former President Donald Trump still has a large lead among likely voters in New Hampshire’s Republican presidential primary, but former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has surpassed Trump’s other rivals and now holds second place.
With 42% of likely primary voters saying they would support Trump, Haley comes in at 20%, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at 14%, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at 9%, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy at 8%, and no other candidate holding more than 2% support. From the latest AWN/UNH poll in September, support for Haley has increased by 8 percentage points, while support for Ramaswamy has decreased by 5. Support for Trump, Christie, and DeSantis has remained relatively stable.
The survey finds that Trump’s standing in New Hampshire is boosted by majority support among registered Republicans (55% back him, 17% Haley, 11% DeSantis), while undeclared voters – those who are not registered with either party but say they are likely to vote in the Republican primary – are split between Haley (25%), Trump (24%) and Christie (24%).
About 43% of prospective GOP primary voters are undeclared voters in the current poll. These voters are free to participate in any primary they choose. According to AWN’s exit polls, this is a larger share than the 36% they had in the 2016 GOP primary when Trump first ran for president, and it’s about the same as their share of the electorate in 2012, the last time there was a competitive Republican primary with an incumbent Democratic president seeking reelection.
On Wednesday, New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan confirmed that the state’s first-in-the-nation primary would be conducted on January 23, roughly a week after the GOP nomination campaign is kicked off by the Iowa caucuses.
There’s been a substantial uptick since September in the number of likely Granite State Republican voters who say their vote is locked in: Just 36% of them in September indicated they’d certainly chosen. Now 52% say they have decided for sure. Eight in ten Trump supporters are certain in their decision, while only 29% say the same about their support for another candidate. This includes almost a quarter of Haley’s supporters (27%) and Christie’s backers (25%).
Although a larger percentage of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire still say they would never support Christie (47% vs. 32%), this reflects a softening of views towards the former New Jersey governor, or at least a redefining of the word “never.” Sixty percent of Republican primary voters stated they would never vote for him in September.
Voters in this state’s Republican primary aren’t convinced by the electability arguments some of Trump’s rivals have made against him: 57% now believe the former president has the best chance of winning the general election next year, up from 51% in September and significantly higher than his overall support in the primary. Moreover, a larger percentage of prospective Republican primary voters than any other major candidate say they would be at least comfortable with Trump as the nominee (63%). Although 38% of non-Trump supporters would be at least comfortable with a Trump nomination, 59% would be dissatisfied or upset if he were to be chosen.
If Haley were to become the Republican nominee, the vast majority of potential primary voters (54%) would be pleased. Among undecided voters, Haley marginally leads Trump in this category (50% of undecided people would be satisfied if she became the nominee, compared to 44% with Trump). Nearly half (49%) of potential Republican primary voters would be at least somewhat content with DeSantis as the party’s presidential nominee, compared to 44% for Ramaswamy and 32% for Christie.
New Hampshire Republicans who are likely to vote in the primary give Donald Trump high marks across the board when asked about his policy positions (67% approve), decision-making skills (66% approve), physical and mental fitness (63% approve), and empathy for the plight of regular people (60% approve). Fewer people think highly of his personality (37% positive) or his honesty and integrity (46% positive). Large minorities have a favourable opinion of Trump’s policy ideas (46%) and decision-making skills (42%), even among those who aren’t supporting him for the party’s nomination. When it comes to Trump’s credibility, however, the divide between his supporters and sceptics is wide. Only 13% of prospective primary voters backing other candidates agree that Trump’s honesty and integrity are good or very good, compared to 90% of Trump’s own followers who feel the same.
A consistent percentage of likely Republican primary voters (39 percent in September, 40 percent now) cite the economy or employment as the most significant issue in determining their primary vote, and a comparable percentage (19 percent in September, 18 percent today) cite immigration or the border. However, the percentage of primary voters who cite foreign policy as a deciding factor has risen dramatically, from 6% in September to 15% presently.
In a survey of potential Republican primary voters in New Hampshire, 50% said they had the most faith in Trump to handle the conflict between Israel and Hamas, while 20% had the most faith in Haley. A majority of voters prefer Trump to handle the economy (58% vs. 11% for Haley and 10% for Christie), but the gap narrows dramatically when it comes to abortion (37% for Trump vs. 29% for Haley).
Among likely Republican primary voters, a majority (61% to 25%) favours a prohibition on admitting refugees from Gaza. There has been a decline in support for continuing US military aid to Ukraine among likely Republican primary voters, who now only support it at a 51% majority, down from 59% in September.
Among likely Republican primary voters who heard about the most recent Republican presidential debate, Haley (37%) and Ramaswamy (26%). DeSantis is favoured by 10%, while Christie is favoured by 9%. Among the whole sample of probable GOP primary voters, 45% say they wish Trump had participated in the Miami confrontation, with 47% saying they wouldn’t have liked him to do so. Five in ten potential Republican primary voters in New Hampshire are interested in seeing more GOP primary debates. This interest is highest among those who do not favour Trump (65%), followed by those who do (38%).
Few voters have engaged in retail politics, even in the state with the first primary in the country. About 18% of prospective Republican primary voters say they have attended a campaign event in the previous year, while just 12% say they have donated to a campaign, 12% say they have met a candidate, and 4% say they have displayed a bumper sticker or yard sign.
The Survey Centre at the University of New Hampshire carried out the online poll for AWN New Hampshire between November 10 and 14. The margin of sampling error for the whole sample of 1,946 individuals in New Hampshire selected using a probability-based panel is +/-2.2 percentage points. Survey questions about voting intentions helped identify likely Republican primary voters. The margin of error for these results, based on a sample of 841 probable Republican primary voters, is +/-3.1 percentage points.