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Nearly half of Haley voters in Ohio say they'd back Biden: Preliminary exit polls

Nearly half of Haley voters in Ohio say they'd back Biden: Preliminary exit polls

Two in 10 to as many as three in 10 Republican primary voters in Ohio continue to resist Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy -- and among those supporting Nikki Haley, nearly half say they’d back Joe Biden in November, according to preliminary exit poll results from the Republican primary.

While majorities in preliminary exit poll data express loyalty toward Trump, the extent of intraparty challenges may matter in what’s expected to be a close contest in November. Despite his having sewn up the nomination, 20% of Ohio GOP primary voters would be dissatisfied with Trump as the nominee, 22% say he lacks the temperament to serve effectively, and 28% say he wouldn’t be fit for office if convicted of a crime.

At the end of the day, 18% say they wouldn’t support Trump in November, with 10% of that number preferring Biden and 8% saying they wouldn’t vote for either. Nationally, 6% of Republicans voted for Biden in 2020. Nonparticipation by some Republicans would be a further risk for Trump.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks about the economy, on March 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks about the economy, on March 19, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

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Much of the criticism of Trump comes from Haley voters, who turned out despite her departure from the race. (Absentee voting in Ohio opened Feb. 21, two weeks before Haley suspended her campaign.) Among her supporters, 88% would be dissatisfied with Trump as the nominee, 91% say he lacks the temperament for office, and 88% say he’d be unfit if convicted. Eight in 10 say they wouldn’t vote for him in the general election, with 47% preferring Biden and 32% saying they wouldn’t vote for either candidate. Just 18% of Haley voters say they’d vote for Trump in the fall.

Sixty percent of Haley voters also call the Republican Party “too conservative,” as did 19% of GOP primary voters in these preliminary exit poll results. Additionally, as in previous races this year, a minority of Republican voters -- 42% -- consider themselves “part of the MAGA movement.”

Tuesday’s election puts another element of Trump’s influence to the test -- whether his preferred candidate for the party’s nomination for the U.S. Senate, Bernie Moreno, can prevail.

Endorsed by Trump in a square-off against the state’s GOP establishment, Moreno, a car dealership and blockchain business owner, faces state Sen. Matt Dolan, whose father owns the Cleveland Guardians baseball team, and Secretary of State Frank LaRose. The winner will face incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown in the fall. Trump attended a rally for Moreno outside Dayton on Saturday, denouncing Dolan as insufficiently conservative.

In a potential boon to Moreno, 79% of Senate primary voters in these preliminary exit poll results approve of how Trump handled his job when he served as president, including 59% strongly so. And 71% say it’s important to them that the state’s next U.S. senator supports Trump -- with 55% calling this very important. In that latter group, Moreno led Dolan by 45 percentage points.

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The ideological makeup of the state’s GOP electorate was important in the Senate race, as well as the share of white evangelical Christians – a core Trump group in previous primaries this year, alongside strong conservatives. Moreno ran 30 points ahead of Dolan among white evangelicals, 39 points ahead among those who are angry with the country’s direction (another signature Trump group), 44 points ahead among very conservative voters and 45 points ahead among those who strongly approve of Trump’s performance as president.

Moreno, like Trump, was especially strong among voters who don’t have a four-year college degree -- 55% of the turnout. Dolan, for his part, prevailed among moderates -- and especially among those not looking for a senator who’s tied to Trump.

GOP voters' conservative bent shows up in preferences on issues: Seventy-two percent in these preliminary results support deporting most unauthorized immigrants; 61% are enthusiastic or satisfied with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling eliminating the constitutional right to abortion; 50% say they’d support a federal law banning all or most abortions nationwide. (In a statewide ballot initiative last year, Ohioans voted 57-43% to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution.)

Moreno did especially well in preliminary exit poll results among deportation supporters and abortion opponents; Dolan, among their opposites.

Returning to the presidential race, as in previous states, Haley voters look different from Trump's on key issues: Far fewer -- 40% -- support deporting most unauthorized immigrants; 37% are enthusiastic or satisfied with the abortion ruling, and 19% favor a federal abortion ban, underscoring fundamental gaps between the Trump and Haley camps.

Nearly half of Haley voters in Ohio say they'd back Biden: Preliminary exit polls originally appeared on abcnews.go.com