This story by Michael Graham was originally published by the NH Journal and is republished here with permission.
When Donald Trump returns to New Hampshire on Tuesday, he will be greeted by a Republican base that is overwhelmingly loyal to the former president.
How loyal? In an exclusive new NHJournal/co-efficient poll, 62 percent of GOP primary voters said they would vote to make Trump president even if he were convicted of a felony. In a further display of resolve, 57 percent said they would vote to send Trump back to the White House even if he were “serving time in prison” on Election Day.
“As a pollster, I wonder if there is any other political figure in America who could generate this level of loyalty,” said co-efficient CEO Ryan Munce. “It will be difficult for any Republican to peel away these voters.”
Trump is scheduled to speak at Windham High School on Tuesday afternoon.
Trump has consistently led in both national and New Hampshire polls since his first criminal indictment, by Manhattan’s progressive prosecutor Alvin Bragg, in April. And while Trump’s topline number has softened a bit since the last NHJournal poll in mid-June, his margin over the rest of the field is as large as ever.
Trump had the support of 43 percent of NHGOP primary voters, while Gov. Ron DeSantis and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were tied for second place with 9 percent. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley was at seven percent, and fellow South Carolinian Sen. Tim Scott was tied with entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy at five percent.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (4 percent) edged out former Vice President Mike Pence (3 percent).
While Trump’s approval was a solid (57-33 percent), he actually dropped by a net -7 since mid-June. And Gov. Chris Sununu is actually more popular among Granite State likely GOP primary voters than the former president, with a 60 percent approval and a 26 percent disapproval.
But it is the primary voters’ loyalty to Trump that is most significant for the First in the Nation primary. Those voters would overwhelmingly elect Trump even if he is a convicted felon (62-25 percent)
And nearly as many said they would vote for another Trump term even if he were behind bars (57-29 percent).
One number that might put the rest into context: Just 25 percent of GOP primary voters said they believe Trump committed a crime related to the January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot, as special counsel Jack Smith has charged. The remaining 75 percent either believed Trump is completely innocent (35 percent), or they weren’t sure about his guilt or innocence but believed he is “only being prosecuted because he’s Donald Trump.”
“To paraphrase Donald Trump, he could stand in the middle of Elm Street and shoot someone and not lose any voters,” said veteran GOP strategist Jim Merrill. “Impressive loyalty, and yet, he still has under 50 percent primary support. There remain opportunities for primary challengers to go on the offensive, draw contrasts more forcefully, and get creative.
“But they’re climbing an awfully steep hill to make it happen, and the clock is ticking.”
A looming question over the upcoming primary is what sort of Republicans make up the GOP base. Is the era of traditional Reagan Republicans over as Trump Republicans rise? Asked to put themselves into one of four categories, the 862 respondents broke down as follows:
- Traditional Reagan Republican: 42 percent
- Trump Republican: 28 percent
- Libertarian Republican: 22 percent
- Christian/Evangelical: 8 percent
Trump led among all groups of Republicans except Christian/Evangelicals, who backed Haley (36 percent) more than any other candidate. Among traditional Republicans, sometimes viewed as “establishment Republicans,” Trump had the support of 29 percent while second place went to “undecided” at 18 percent. DeSantis was third at 15 percent.
Another hotly-debated issue is whether there should be an age limit on the presidency. President Joe Biden’a age-related frailty has raised questions about his ability to serve, and most Granite Staters told pollsters they believed Biden is too old for the job. However, 80-year-old Biden (who will be 81 in November) is just three and a half years older than 77-year-old Trump. Asked how old is “too old” to serve as president, about a quarter (28 percent) said there should be no limit, while 34 percent said 75 was too old, and another 12 percent said 65 years old.
That’s 46 percent who said both Biden and Trump are too old to serve as president.
And when it comes to who to hold responsible for America’s $32.6 trillion national debt, a plurality of GOP primary voters (40 percent) said they blame both parties in Congress, 30 percent blame Biden and 15 percent blame congressional Democrats.
Just seven percent blamed Trump.