Former President Donald Trump chalked up another big win on Tuesday in the New Hampshire primary, defeating former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley by double digits on his path to securing another term in the White House.
While Haley’s loss was frustrating enough for her supporters who thought she might be able to eke out a much-needed victory, the news only got worse as details surfaced about the voters who did show up to support her.
According to a CNN exit poll, roughly 70% of Haley voters were “registered as undeclared” rather than as members of the GOP. New Hampshire allows independent voters to decide which primary they wish to vote in, meaning moderates and liberals were permitted to skew the results in Haley’s favor.
In fact, some of those voters admitted that they intended to vote for Haley in the primary and switch allegiance to President Joe Biden in the general election.
🚨SMOKING GUN: CNN has a New Hampshire voter who is voting for Nikki Haley in the GOP primary and will switch his vote to Joe Biden in the general election.
This is an OUTRAGE. This must be fixed immediately. pic.twitter.com/jcRb3gf4Sh
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) January 24, 2024
Ahead of Tuesday’s election, reports signaled that the Haley campaign sought to take advantage of the state’s primary rules by reaching out — though not too emphatically — to independent voters in a bid to bolster her showing against Trump.
Since upcoming states will not offer such an opportunity, it was a risky move that did not appear to pay off.
New England College associate politics professor Nathan Shrader weighed in on the strategy.
“It’s a very difficult needle to thread, because if she makes too much of an overt play for the independent voters, that could be a turnoff for some of the Republicans who we know in the Trump era are more conservative than they might have been a generation ago.”
In a different exit poll, Edison Research found that just 51% of the voters in the Republican primary identified as Republicans, which was four points lower than in 2016. Trump won this group by a roughly three-to-one margin over Haley.
Another 43% identified as independent and 6% — twice as many as eight years ago — said they consider themselves to be Democrats.
Voters who identified as “very conservative” were far more likely to support Trump, backing the former president 88% to 11% over Haley. Moderates, on the other hand, went to Haley by a 73% to 25% margin.