March 4th, 2024

New Hampshire Republicans want big changes, but some have concerns about Trump, AP VoteCast shows

By Josh Boak And Linley Sanders, The Associated Press on January 23, 2024.

A resident, with ballot in hand, walks towards a voting booth at Auburn Village School, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Auburn, N.H., as New Hampshire's famously independent-minded electorate makes its pick for the 2024 presidential nominees. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

WASHINGTON (AP) – New Hampshire Republicans are voting Tuesday night with a desire to curb immigration and overhaul the federal government, yet they have some misgivings about former President Donald Trump and the criminal charges facing him.

There are signs that Democrats are rallying around President Joe Biden on the economy, but many have concerns about his age ““- he is 81 – and his handling of the situation in the Middle East.

The findings from AP VoteCast point to some of the dominant issues that could shape the general election in November, with voters sharing which issues they care most about and how they perceive the top candidates. Even as the coronavirus pandemic has faded as an election-defining risk, the results of the survey show that the cultural and social forces from the 2020 election have endured.

AP VoteCast is a survey of more than 1,890 New Hampshire voters who are taking part in the Republican primary and 873 Democratic primary voters. The survey is conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The New Hampshire primaries are unique because undeclared voters -““ those not affiliated with either party -““ can choose to vote for a particular party. This draws in voters who are not necessarily party loyalists. More than 4 in 10 GOP primary voters are not affiliated with a party, compared with about 2 in 10 in the Democratic primary.

BREAKING WITH IOWA

The voting in New Hampshire follows last week’s Iowa caucuses, but the participation of a substantial number of undeclared voters means that the candidates are facing a different electorate.

New Hampshire Republican voters are more likely than those in Iowa to say they are political moderates. They are less likely to identify as born-again Christians. GOP voters in New Hampshire are less supportive than are Iowa Republicans of a six-week abortion ban or reducing aid for Ukraine. Only about one-half identify with Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement, and nearly half say Biden was legitimately elected four years ago.

IMMIGRATION IS A BIGGER PRIORITY THAN ECONOMY

As inflation has eased and job growth continued, concerns about the economy have become less pressing compared with the chaos along the U.S. border with Mexico.

In New Hampshire, about 4 in 10 Republican voters identify immigration as the most critical issue facing the United States. About 7 in 10 say immigrants in the U.S. today do more to hurt the country than help it. And 8 in 10 favor building a wall along the southern border.

By contrast, 3 in 10 Republican voters say the economy is their priority. This mirrors the results from the Iowa caucuses and marks a change from the 2020 and 2022 general elections when Republicans generally said the economy was their top concern.

About 8 in 10 GOP voters in the New Hampshire primary say they would like substantial changes or a complete and total upheaval in how the country is run, continuing a theme that emerged among Republicans in the Iowa caucuses.

Abortion is not seen as a top issue by many, but it’s still a divisive one.

About half of GOP primary voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while about 4 in 10 say it should be illegal in most or all cases. New Hampshire Republican voters are more divided on this issue than are the Iowans who voted last week. Close to 6 in 10 participants in the GOP contest are opposed to banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, but about 6 in 10 favor a ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

About two-thirds favor continuing aid to Israel to fight Hamas, and about half support continuing aid to Ukraine in the war against Russia.

CONCERNS ABOUT TRUMP

Compared with Iowa caucusgoers, New Hampshire Republican primary voters have slightly more doubts about Trump, who won the caucuses.

In New Hampshire, about half of GOP voters are very or somewhat concerned that Trump is too extreme to win the general election. Only about one-third say the same about Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador.

Regarding Trump’s criminal indictments, about one-third of GOP participants in New Hampshire believe he has done something illegal related to either his alleged attempt to interfere in the vote count in the 2020 presidential election, his role in what happened at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, or the classified documents found at his Florida home after he left the White House.

About one-quarter say he has done nothing wrong on all of those charges. Still, about two-thirds say the charges against Trump are political attempts to undermine him, rather than legitimate attempts to investigate alleged wrongdoing.

DEMOCRATS WEIGH IN ON BIDEN

Biden merited mixed reviews on some top issues from Democratic voters in New Hampshire. During his presidency, the Democratic Party has chosen to make South Carolina the first official presidential contest, a choice that has relegated Biden to write-in status in New Hampshire.

More than 8 in 10 approve of his economic leadership, and about 8 in 10 approve of how he has approached the student debt issue.

Still, Biden did not receive uniform support. About 6 in 10 approve of how he is handling immigration. There is more of a divide among New Hampshire Democrats on his handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict: only about half approve.

About 4 in 10 say Biden is too old to serve a second term as president.

About half say it is very or somewhat important to them that New Hampshire’s presidential primary is the first in the nation.

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AP VoteCast is a survey of the American electorate conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research for AP and Fox News. The survey of 1,890 Republican primary voters and 873 Democratic primary voters was conducted for six days, concluding as polls close. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. The survey combines a random sample of registered voters drawn from state voter files and self-identified registered voters selected from nonprobability online panels. The margin of sampling error for voters is estimated to be plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for Republican primary voters and plus or minus 4.6 points for Democratic primary voters.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024

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