What the GOP primary exit polls tell us about 2024: From the Politics Desk


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In today’s edition, TKTK. Plus, TKTK

What we learned from polling thousands of GOP primary voters

By Stephanie Perry, NBC News Exit Poll Desk

Republican voters spoke clearly this primary season: Donald Trump is their undisputed leader. But below the surface, there’s plenty more to glean about where the party stands heading into the general election.

Entrance and exit polls taken across seven states over the course of the GOP presidential nominating fight reveal the strengths and weaknesses of Trump’s coalition, and where the priorities of the Republican base lie as the focus turns to a rematch with President Joe Biden. In total, 12,000 voters were interviewed in California, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

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Most GOP voters made up their minds long ago: In the lead-off Iowa caucuses, about two-thirds of voters said they had decided on a candidate at least a month before. A majority of voters in New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia also said they decided before this year. And in Ohio, a plurality of voters said they had made up their mind before 2024. Trump comfortably won all six contests.

This suggests Trump’s opponents had a small pool of up-for-grabs voters to vie for, even in the early stages of the race. While many Republican voters are entrenched in the Trump camp, the former president’s challenge will now be winning over middle-of-the-road voters who are more skeptical of him.

Split over a nationwide abortion ban: Just under half (48%) of Republican primary voters said they would oppose a federal law banning abortion in all or most cases, while 44% said they would favor a ban. Trump dominated among those who favored a ban, but won those who were opposed by a smaller margin.

Trump suggested this week that he would be open to supporting a national ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is endangered. So he would not only need to balance this stance with a general electorate that public polling suggests is broadly opposed to a federal abortion ban, but with a split Republican primary electorate as well.

Immigration was the top issue: Trump’s focus on the U.S.-Mexico border paid dividends, with a plurality of GOP primary voters (42%) citing immigration as their most important issue, followed closely by the economy (38%).

It’s an advantage Trump will look to carry into his bid against Biden as the issue rises up the list of priorities for voters.

Read more takeaways from the 2024 GOP exit polls here →

The two types of voters who will decide 2024

Analysis by Chuck Todd

In 2020, Biden benefited from two types of vacillating swing voters — call them the “aspirational” and the “transactional.”

The aspirational voter saw the choice of a second Trump term versus a first term of Biden as a directional tell to the rest of the world about who America is and isn’t — and whether America could be a reliable ally or a rogue superpower.

The transactional voter appeared to slightly favor Biden, too. Many of these normally right-leaning voters saw the chaos and intentional divisiveness of the Trump years (coupled with his erratic management of the pandemic) as simply bad for business and for their own lives. Biden wasn’t necessarily whom these folks wanted to be appointing the regulators of government, but they were exhausted.

In 2024, the same arguments are hitting the slice of voters who will be decisive — the so-called double haters. These are people who tell pollsters they have negative views of both Biden and Trump. The double haters leaned Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016, and they leaned Biden over Trump in 2020.

Now, they’re confronting a campaign and an emerging worldview steeped in a cynicism that could make it more difficult for Biden to win the transactionalists. Biden has to prove to these cynical voters that politics can have a heart again and that Washington can govern both strategically and morally.

It’s easy to understand why some voters are giving up on the idea of aspirational governance. Biden did a good job of this when he wasn’t in office; he’s had a much harder time selling this idea as president, with the border being the best example of debate between the aspirational (America is a nation of immigrants and a protector of the oppressed) and the transactional (we have to focus on those who are here and keep them safe first).

In many ways, what’s on the ballot in November is how we view ourselves and how we view the game of life.

Read more from Chuck here →

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have feedback — likes or dislikes — email us at politicsnewsletter@nbcuni.com

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This article was originally published on NBCNews.com



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