CNN Poll: Trump’s lead over Haley widens to double digits in New Hampshire


The race for the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary appears to be former President Donald Trump’s to lose, according to a new CNN poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire following Trump’s 30-point win in Iowa’s caucuses last week.

Trump holds 50% support among likely Republican primary voters in the Granite State, while his closest competitor, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, stands at 39%. Both have gained supporters since the last CNN/UNH poll in early January – when Trump held 39% to Haley’s 32% – as the field of major contenders has shrunk from six candidates to three. Both Trump and Haley now hold their highest level of support in UNH polling on the race since 2021. But Haley’s sharp gains since late last summer have not been enough to catch Trump, as the gap between them has once again widened to double digits.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who led the race in UNH’s polling in early 2023 but has recently pulled back his efforts in the state, stands at just 6% in the poll, below the 10% minimum support he would need to win delegates there per the Republican Party’s rules.

For Trump’s opponents, New Hampshire has long appeared to be the place in the early primary calendar that offered the best shot at knocking him off track in his bid for a third straight GOP presidential nomination. It was the only early state where polls consistently found Trump without majority support, and where voters often showed the most openness to his rivals. But this latest survey suggests that Trump’s popularity within the GOP base and the commitment of his supporters outweigh the appeal of his challengers.

New Hampshire’s traditional independent streak and more moderate pool of likely primary voters, when compared with other states whose nominating contests land ahead of Super Tuesday, are part of why some Trump rivals fixated on the state as the place to stand out. And Haley has won over those groups.

She holds 58% support among those who are registered as undeclared (New Hampshire’s term for independent voters) and plan to vote in the GOP primary, and 71% support among those who consider themselves ideologically moderate. She also stands ahead of Trump among voters who hold college degrees (50% Haley to 38% Trump). But each of these groups on its own makes up a minority of likely GOP primary voters in New Hampshire: 47% are registered undeclared, 33% are at least college graduates and just about 3 in 10 describe themselves as moderate.

Trump has largely consolidated his support among the larger flip sides of each of those groups. He has the backing of 67% of registered Republicans, 71% of conservatives and 55% of those who do not have a college degree. And among Trump’s supporters, 88% say they have definitely decided to support him compared with 74% of Haley supporters who are similarly locked in. That translates to 45% of the electorate being firmly decided Trump supporters, compared with just 30% who are equally decided Haley backers.

With just a few days to go before Tuesday’s primary, about 1 in 5 likely Republican primary voters overall say they have not yet locked in their choice. That group broadly backs Haley as of now: 51% support her, 28% supportTrump and 14% say they support DeSantis.

Broadly speaking, New Hampshire’s likely Republican primary voters expect Trump to win on Tuesday (70% say they think he will carry the day, though just 36% of Haley backers feel that way), and more say they would be satisfied were he to become the party’s presidential nominee than would feel that way about Haley or DeSantis (61% say they would be either enthusiastic or satisfied should Trump win the nomination, compared with 54% each saying the same about Haley or DeSantis).

And Trump continues to be viewed more favorably than either Haley or DeSantis within the primary electorate: 56% have a positive view of Trump, compared with 36% who feel that way about Haley and 28% about DeSantis. He is the only one of the three remaining candidates to have maintained a net positive favorability rating throughout the past year, while both Haley and DeSantis end the campaign for the Granite State in negative territory (a net negative 11 points for DeSantis, negative 4 for Haley).

The state’s Republican primary electorate also has a broadly positive outlook on what Trump actually did as president. Looking back on his first term in office, 70% of likely Republican primary voters say that he did more to help the country than hurt it, while 28% say he did more to hurt and 2% that his time in office didn’t make much of a difference.

The survey asked whether Trump would attempt – and whether he would succeed at – six things he’s talked about doing during the campaign: building a wall along the US border with Mexico, appointing a special prosecutor to “go after” President Joe Biden and his family, dismantling the “deep state,” repealing Obamacare and replacing it with another health care law, bringing the war between Russia and Ukraine to an end, and reimposing a travel ban for seven Muslim-majority countries.

Majorities in the GOP electorate say that if he wins, Trump would likely succeed in accomplishing four out of those six: building the wall (71% say he would definitely or probably succeed in doing so), ending the war between Ukraine and Russia (59%), reimposing the travel ban (56%) and appointing a prosecutor to go after the Biden family (53%). Far fewer see Trump as likely to succeed at dismantling the deep state (39%) or repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (34%).

Most New Hampshire residents agree with likely Republican voters that should Trump win the presidency, he is at least probably going to accomplish reimposing the travel ban (58%), appointing a special prosecutor to go after the Biden family (56%) and building the wall (52%). But there are deep partisan divisions in views on his prospects for ending the war between Ukraine and Russia; 71% of Republicans feel he will at least probably succeed in that effort, compared with 33% of independents and 8% of Democrats; 79% of Democrats say that Trump is unlikely to even try to bring the war to an end. And few of any partisan stripe feel he’s likely to repeal and replace the ACA (26% overall).

There is also a notable partisan divide over the chances that Trump will try or succeed in appointing a special prosecutor to “go after” Biden and his family. Nearly all Democrats think he will at least try (90%) compared with about two-thirds of independents and Republicans (63% each). Democrats are also most apt to say it is at least probable that he will succeed (64% say so), with only about half of Republicans (51%) or independents (47%) saying the same.

About two-thirds of likely primary voters on the Democratic side say they plan to write in Biden (63%). Biden did not file to be a candidate on the state’s primary ballot because the primary is in violation of the Democratic National Committee’s rules for the nomination process, but supporters have mounted a write-in effort on his behalf. Nearly all likely Democratic primary voters are aware of that effort; 91% said they had heard that Biden would not be on the ballot before taking the survey. Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips holds 10% support in the poll, matching his high mark in CNN/UNH polling on the race, and author Marianne Williamson has 9% support, with 11% saying they would support someone else.

Nearly all Biden backers, 92%, say they have definitely decided to support him, compared with just 28% of those who are supporting another candidate. Most in the Democratic primary electorate say they would be at least satisfied with Biden as their party’s nominee (70% say they would be enthusiastic or satisfied), but enthusiasm for Biden among Democratic primary voters (31%) is lower than enthusiasm for Trump on the GOP side (46%).

Still, just 46% of likely Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire say that Biden would give the party its best chance to win in 2024, while 39% say someone else would give Democrats a better chance, and 15% say they’re not sure. There is little agreement among those who say someone else would be better around who that might be. Phillips is most frequently mentioned at 28%, but a wide range of other names also emerge.

Most likely Democratic primary voters say that in Biden’s time as president he has done more to help the country than hurt it (71% help, 16% hurt, 11% hasn’t made much difference).

But neither Biden nor Trump is seen by most New Hampshirites as helping the country during their respective presidencies. Overall, 55% of New Hampshire adults say that Trump hurt the country as president, and 51% say that Biden has. There isn’t much overlap between the two groups. Only 8% total say that both men did more to hurt than help, just 1% that both of them did more to help, 41% say that Trump helped and Biden hurt, 35% that Trump hurt and Biden helped, and 10% that Trump hurt while Biden hasn’t made much difference.

The CNN New Hampshire poll was conducted online January 16-19 by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Results among the full sample of 2,348 New Hampshire adults drawn from a probability-based panel have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.0 percentage points. Likely Republican and Democratic primary voters were identified through survey questions about their intention to vote. Results among 1,210 likely Republican primary voters have an error margin of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points. Results among 838 likely Democratic primary voters have an error margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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