Seven in 10 voters supporting Nikki Haley in the New Hampshire GOP primary were not registered Republicans, according to a CNN exit poll.
The poll found 70 percent of voters who backed Haley in the primary on Tuesday were undeclared, or independent, while only 27 percent were Republicans. The remaining 3 percent were unregistered as voters before participating in the primary.
The breakdown for former President Trump’s support in the primary was the exact opposite, according to the exit poll. It found that 70 percent of Trump voters were registered Republicans, while 27 percent were undeclared, and 3 percent were previously unregistered as voters.
Voters in New Hampshire do not need to register as Republican to vote in the GOP primary, but they cannot be registered Democrats.
The stark differences between Trump and Haley voters found in the exit poll tracked with another question about voters’ views of the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.
The poll found 80 percent of Trump voters believe the former president’s false claims that President Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 race. But 83 percent of Haley voters said Biden fairly won the 2020 election over Trump.
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Trump falsely claimed Democrats could participate in the Republican primary and Haley was counting on their votes to help her. But Democrats would have needed to switch parties or become undeclared before Oct. 6 to participate.
The difference between Trump and Haley voters in the exit poll could signal big problems for Haley as the GOP race continues. Not all states allow independents to participate in their primary, so Haley would need to significantly improve her numbers among registered Republicans to compete.
South Carolina, where Haley has turned her attention for its primary late next month, does not require voters to be a registered party member to participate, which could help her in her home state, where she was governor until joining the Trump administration in 2017.
Trump was able to fend off a challenge from Haley in New Hampshire on Tuesday, winning with by about 11 percentage points as of the latest vote count.
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