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Six Key Takeaways from the 2024 New Hampshire Republican Primary

All eyes were on New Hampshire this past Tuesday as more than 300,000 Republican Granite Staters packed into polling places and waited in line to participate in the “first in the nation” primary. This year’s contest set a record for turnout, surpassing 2016 figures.

Voters delivered former President Trump his second major victory in the past two weeks, notching an 11-point primary win over former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. This comes on the heels of his 30-point win at the Iowa Caucuses.

Below are a few of our key takeaways from the race:

1. Once again, the majority of the electorate was age 50 and up.

According to CNN Exit Polls, voters age 50 and over cast 65% of Republican primary ballots up from 57% in 2016 – the last election without an incumbent Republican candidate. Those age 50-64 backed Trump, 55% to 43% over Haley, and those 65+ supported Trump, 53% to 45%.

2. Similar to Iowa, former President Trump won all but one county in the state, but the town-by-town picture is a little more mixed.

New Hampshire totals are reported by town with more than 200 across the state. Nikki Haley carried 59 of these – including the state capital of Concord, suburban Bedford which voted for President Trump in 2016 but flipped to Biden in 2020, and Newmarket, a traditional bellwether of New Hampshire, which previously had picked the winner of the GOP primary since 1952.

3. Immigration and the economy continue to be top issues for Republican primary voters.

Looking across various data sources, it’s clear that immigration and the economy are the top two issues on the minds of Republican primary voters – and folks who say these are their most important issues favor Trump.

4. Voters dissatisfied with the economy and direction of the country favored Trump by big numbers.

In the CNN exit poll, the 20% of Republican primary voters who say their families are falling behind financially voted for Trump by roughly a 3:1 margin (75% to 24%). Meanwhile, more than 6 in 10 of the 19% who say their families are getting ahead financially backed Haley.

Further, nearly 8 in 10 voters report that they are dissatisfied/angry with how things are going in the United States. Of those voters, more than 6 in 10 voted for Trump, while those reportedly feeling enthusiastic/satisfied voted Haley by a near 50-point margin.

5. "Undeclared” voters favored Haley 

Nearly 40% of New Hampshire voters are “undeclared,” meaning they are registered with no political party affiliation. According to the state’s voting rules, these voters can decide on election day whether to cast a Democratic or Republican ballot. On Tuesday, nearly two-thirds of these undeclared folks voting in the Republican primary supported Haley (64% to 35%), while registered Republicans supported Trump by a near 3:1 margin. (74% to 24%)

6. Family caregiving strikes a chord with voters – and candidates. 
As part of our ongoing efforts to engage Presidential candidates on issues important to Americans age 50+, we asked the leading Republican contenders how they could help family caregivers if elected. You can see their responses here. AARP research shows that nationally, more than 70% of voters say they would be more likely to support a candidate who backs proposals such as paid family leave, a tax credit for family caregivers, and expanded access to support and respite services. And, in battleground Congressional districts, 58% of all voters and 70% of voters age 50+ say that policies to help seniors live independently at home as they age are EXTREMELY or VERY important to their vote in November.

As we put yet another nominating contest in our rearview mirror, let this be another lesson to political candidates of all affiliations that they need to pay attention to the needs and concerns of voters age 50+ if they want to win. They will make up the majority of the electorate, and they decide elections.

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