Former President Donald Trump maintains a significant lead among likely voters in New Hampshire’s Republican presidential primary, but former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has moved ahead of Trump’s other rivals for second place, according to a new CNN poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire.
Trump’s lead in New Hampshire still falls short of the majority support he enjoys in primary polls nationally: 42% say they would vote for him, followed by Haley at 20%, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 14%, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis with 9%, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy with 8%, and no other candidate with more than 2% support. Haley’s support is up 8 percentage points from the last CNN/UNH poll in September, with Ramaswamy dropping 5 points and support for Trump, Christie and DeSantis remaining relatively stable.
The survey shows that Trump’s position in New Hampshire is bolstered by majority support among registered Republicans (55% support him, 17% Haley, 11% DeSantis), while black voters — those who are not registered with either party but say , that they are likely to vote in the Republican primary – is split between Haley (25%), Trump (24%) and Christie (24%).
Undeclared voters, who can choose which party’s primary to vote in, make up about 43% of likely GOP primary voters in the new poll. That’s about the same as their share of the 2012 GOP primary — the last time there was a competitive Republican primary with a Democratic incumbent seeking re-election — but a larger share than the 36% they represented in the 2016 GOP primary , as Trump made his first bid for the presidency, according to CNN’s exit polls.
New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan announced Wednesday that the state’s first-in-the-nation primary would be held Jan. 23, about a week after Iowa’s caucuses kick off the GOP nominating contest.
There has been a sharp increase since September in the share of likely Granite State Republican voters who say their vote is decided: Only 36% of them in September said they had definitely made up their minds. Now 52% say they have made up their minds. More than 8 in 10 Trump supporters (83%) say their choice is clear, compared to 29% who back other candidates, including about a quarter of Haley’s supporters (27%) and Christie’s supporters (25%) ).
Christie remains the candidate likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire most often say they would never support (47% say they would never support him, 15 points ahead of the 32% who feel this way about Trump), but that reflects a softening in views against the former New Jersey governor, or at least in the voters’ definition of “never.” In September, 60% of likely Republican primary voters said they would never support him.
Republican primary voters here aren’t buying the electability arguments some rivals have made against Trump — 57% say the former president has the best chance to win the general election next year, up from 51% who said so in September and significantly higher than his. overall support in primary school. And nearly two-thirds of likely GOP primary voters (63%) say they would be at least satisfied with Trump as the nominee, greater than the share who say the same about any other major candidate. Still, those who are not current Trump supporters express mostly negative views about the idea of a Trump nomination: While 38% would be at least pleased, 59% would be dissatisfied or angry about it.
Overall, a majority of likely Republican primary voters (54%) would feel at least satisfied if Haley were the nominee. Haley narrowly edges out Trump on this score among black registered voters (50% of this group would be satisfied if she became the nominee, 44% would be with Trump). Overall, about half of all likely GOP primary voters (49%) would be at least satisfied with DeSantis at the top of the ticket, 44% with Ramaswamy and only 32% with Christie.
Asked to rate Trump on a range of attributes, likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire give him generally positive ratings for his policy positions (67%), decision-making ability (66%), physical and mental fitness (63%), and ability to understand the problems faced by people like them (60%). Fewer have a positive impression of his temperament (37%) or his honesty and integrity (46%). Still, even among those who do not support Trump for the party’s nomination, significant minorities rate his policy positions (46%) and decision-making skills (42%) favorably. However, the gap between Trump supporters and others is a chasm when it comes to perceptions of his level of honesty: while 90% of Trump’s own supporters say his honesty and integrity is good or very good, only 13% of those likely to support primary voters other candidates say the same.
A steady share of likely Republican primary voters cite the economy or jobs as the most important issue when deciding their primary vote (39% in September, 40% now), and there is a similarly steady number who cite immigration or the border (19 % in September, 18% now). But there has been a sharp increase in the proportion citing a foreign policy issue as decisive for their primary vote, from 6% in September to 15% now.
Half of likely GOP primary voters in New Hampshire (50%) trust Trump the most of the GOP presidential candidates to handle the war between Israel and Hamas, while 20% say they trust Haley the most. Trump has a wider edge as the most trusted on the economy (58% say he can best handle it compared to 11% for Haley and 10% for Christie), but a significantly smaller edge on handling abortion (37% for Trump to 29% for Haley).
A majority of potential GOP primary voters support a ban on Gaza refugees from entering the United States (61% support it, 25% oppose it). About half of likely Republican primary voters (51%) favor ending all U.S. military aid to Ukraine, but that’s down from September, when 59% supported that proposal.
GOP primary voters who followed news of the latest Republican presidential debate are likely to say Haley (37%) and Ramaswamy (26%) did the best job. Another 10% say DeSantis had the best performance, and 9% name Christie. Among the full range of likely GOP primary voters, 45% say they wish Trump had attended the Miami showdown, with 47% saying they would not have preferred he did. Republican primary voters in New Hampshire (54%) are most likely to say they are at least somewhat interested in further GOP primary debates, with interest concentrated more among those who do not support Trump (65%) than among his voters ( 38 %).
Even in the state with the first primary in the country, relatively few voters have participated in retail politics. About 1 in 6 likely GOP primary voters say they have attended an event for a candidate in the past year (18%), with fewer reporting donating to a campaign (12%), meeting a candidate (12%). or displayed a bumper sticker (8%) or yard sign (4%).
The CNN New Hampshire poll was conducted online 10-14. November by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Results among the entire sample of 1,946 New Hampshire adults from a probability-based panel have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points. Likely Republican primary voters were identified through survey questions about their intention to vote. Results among 841 likely Republican primary voters have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.