Return to Transcripts main page
CNN Live Event/Special
Right Now, Final Minutes Of Voting At Many New Hampshire Polling Sites; Trump Team Says, Hoping For A Victory Of Seven-Plus Points Over Haley; Haley Aide Says, Believe We're Less Than 15 Points Behind Trump; Moments Away: First Polls Close In The New Hampshire Primary. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired January 23, 2024 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HORN: And I just heard the conversation before me about the numbers, you know, the exit polling and those abortion numbers, those right to life numbers are really not in her favor. I think that has more impact than the fact that she's the first woman.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jennifer Horn, thanks so much for joining us, the former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party.
And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. We're standing by once again for the first polls to close in New Hampshire in just about an hour, and our special coverage of the New Hampshire primary will continue right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It is round two for the Republicans and the presidential nomination could all come down to what happens in the hours ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The spotlight is on historic New England and a Republican race that's down to the final two.
NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is telling a whole lot of lies.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: If you want a losing candidate who puts America last, vote for Nikki Haley.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With a head-to-head fight and a big win behind him, will the GOP frontrunner seal the deal?
TRUMP: We need big margins. We have to set the tone for November.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's New Hampshire's choice.
Tonight, a pivotal presidential primary, Donald Trump aiming for a knockout punch against the only opponent still in his way.
TRUMP: She's not tough enough. She's not smart enough. She cannot do this job. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nikki Haley, putting it all on the line in New Hampshire as she tries to put the brakes on Trump.
HALEY: Who lost the House for us? Who lost the Senate? Who lost the White House? Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the former president, with a divisive record and facing criminal charges, get another step closer to his ultimate goal?
TRUMP: This could end it. Get the big vote, it ends it. Then we could focus on Biden.
HALEY: Our campaign is the last best hope of stopping the Trump-Biden nightmare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, it's time for voters to have their say, with the power to shake up the race.
HALEY: The Granite State has put political pundits to shame so many times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or help catapult Trump toward the nomination.
TRUMP: You'll be able to vote for your all-time favorite president, me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's New Hampshire's turn, and voting is underway across the state right now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Take a look a live you of the New Hampshire Capitol as voters across the state are putting their stamp on the Republican presidential race. They're casting ballots in the first primary of 2024, a contest that could be decisive in the fight for the GOP nomination welcome to CNN's live special coverage of the New Hampshire primary. I'm Anderson Cooper.
TAPPER: And I'm Jake Tapper in the CNN Election Center.
Most polling places across New Hampshire close less than an hour from now, and then the early results will start coming in. Stakes are enormous for the last two major Republican presidential candidates left standing. Donald Trump seeking a decisive win over Nikki Haley that could potentially end her White House hopes. Haley hoping to defy expectations, pull off a strong showing in a state that has historically delivered upsets. That would propel her campaign forward.
On the Democratic side, there's an effort to write-in President Joe Biden's name in a contest that will not be awarding any delegates. But that does not mean there's nothing at stake. Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips and author Marianne Williamson are trying to peel away Biden's support within the Democratic Party, hoping to drive home their concerns that his re-election bid is weak as we count down to results on this very important primary night. Our anchors and correspondents are at key locations across New Hampshire, covering the candidates and tracking the votes as they're cast and counted.
Right now, let's bring in my colleague, Dana Bash, in Manchester, New Hampshire. And, Dana, you've spent a lot of time in New Hampshire. What stands out to you on this primary night?
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Jake, the thing to keep in mind about tonight is voters here in New Hampshire make up the most unique electorate in the entire presidential nominating process. That's why we've covered so many contests here over the years from 2000 in John McCain, 2008 with Hillary Clinton, where New Hampshire voters really surprised everyone.
There are a lot of reasons for that, but one of the most important reasons is that New Hampshire has a really large amount of independent voters. Here, they call them undeclared voters. Nikki Haley's campaign is really relying on those undeclared voters to come through for her here tonight.
Now, I'm told in her campaign's internal modeling what they are looking for is a share of that vote to be at least 47 percent, so, 47 percent of undeclared voters for her to have a really good night. And in our exit poll, which David Chalian showed us earlier this evening, it was exactly that, 47 percent of the voters are undeclared.
That's an early good sign for team Haley.
Now, Jake, in the Donald Trump campaign, they, of course, are hoping to get a large enough margin to make it uncomfortable for Nikki Haley to stay in the race.
One area that team Trump tells me that they're watching tonight, sort of as a bellwether, is the wealthy Manchester suburb of Bedford, that if Haley runs up the vote total there, she will have a good night.
And you know New Hampshire well, Jake, the weather here for January is relatively warm today and that's why the secretary of state predicted turnout is higher than normal and could be really high by historical standards. We'll see if that bears out shortly.
TAPPER: Yes. That's balmy for January in New Hampshire. Dana Bash, thanks so much.
Let's go to CNN's Kristen Holmes, who is covering the Trump campaign and is at a Trump campaign headquarters in Nashua, New Hampshire. And, Kristen, how confident is the Trump team?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, this is a completely different attitude than I saw for the last two weeks. They are very confident going into tonight. They believe that they could win by double digits, but I am told by a senior adviser that anything over 7 percent margin, they believe, will be a clear and resounding victory. Now, again, this is very different from what we saw the last several weeks. They've been watching Haley's poll numbers closely. And as Dana mentioned, because of the large amount of independent voters that can vote in Republican primary, they were genuinely concerned as to what was going to happen.
They spent millions of dollars between the campaign and the super PAC, hitting Nikki Haley on two issues, immigration and social security, hitting her on immigration because the Trump campaign believes that that is the most important issue to Republicans here in New Hampshire, they were trying to solidify those conservative votes, and hitting her on social security to try and lessen her appeal to independent voters. Tonight, Jake, we will find out whether or not their strategy paid off.
TAPPER: All right, Kristen Holmes at Trump Campaign Headquarters in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Now, let's go to a key voting site also in Nashua, New Hampshire. Kate Bolduanis there. Kate, tell us what's going on where you are.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: So, polls here close later than most of the rest of the state. The polls call it 8:00, 8:00 P.M. here in Nashua at Ward 3.
And what you're looking at, what we've been able to gain access to, is the final step in the process for voters. After they've gotten their ballot, after they've gone to be trying the privacy screens to make their choices. This black box, this is the ballot box, this is where the voters, this is their final step. They insert it into the box and then that is that.
The latest count that I've been able to get is there have been 1,987 votes cast. For some context, Jake, here in Ward 3, there are just under 5,000 registered voters. There's still time to go. That's been very busy the last, I would say, 30, 40 minutes here. Obviously, people are getting off work and they're coming in to cast their ballots. So, this is a well-oiled machine here. They are coming through quickly.
At 8:00, what's going to happen is Jed (ph), the ward moderator, he's going to be able to hit that tabulating button. And that is when you're going to get the totals, the unofficial and incomplete totals, but the first read on where this ward is going to be going.
After that, then they have to go through the process of going through and sifting through all of the ballots that require hand counting. That could be write-ins, as we know, people are concerned about needing to do a lot -- going through a lot of write-in ballots because of Joe Biden. But that part of the process will then take some more time.
Come with me, though, because after this, the voters come out here, they leave, and we have a voter with us right here. The cameraman is going to come here.
Justin, how are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm good. How are you?
BOLDUAN: Who'd you vote for today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I voted for Nikki Haley.
BOLDUAN: And you were undeclared?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BOLDUAN: Why did you vote for Nikki Haley?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I think that Donald Trump is more of an existential threat than the Republican Party at large. So, I voted for Nikki as a vote against Trump.
BOLDUAN: Vote against Trump. Justin, thank you so much. I really appreciate your time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Jake, back to you.
TAPPER: All right. Kate Baldwin in Nashua, New Hampshire, about 1,800 votes cast so far there in a state where there are about 877,000 overall registered voters, I believe.
David Chalian is breaking down our New Hampshire exit polls. David, how do New Hampshire voters feel about Donald Trump, according to the exit poll?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, we see a big difference in this electorate compared to Iowa, Jake. And I just want to note, these are early preliminary exit poll findings. These numbers are going to change throughout the evening as more surveys come in.
But we ask this question, do you consider yourself part of the MAGA movement? Take a look here. 32 percent of New Hampshire Republican primary voters say yes they do. 64 percent say no. Jake, this was nearly half and half in Iowa last week. Here, two-thirds of voters tonight in the Republican primary say they don't consider themselves MAGA Republicans.
Do you think Joe Biden legitimately won the 2020 election, which he did?
It's split half and half. 49 percent say yes. 49 percent of primary voters today say no. So, again, in Iowa last week, two-thirds of Republican caucus-goers said Biden did not legitimately win, though he did, big difference in the electorate.
Is Donald Trump fit for the presidency even if he's convicted of a crime? Today in New Hampshire, Republican primary voters, half of them say yes, he is still fit for the presidency, even if he's a convicted criminal. No, 47 percent of voters today say no, again, big difference from the two thirds who said yes in Iowa last week.
And then we asked overall, no matter who you're supporting tonight, will you be satisfied or dissatisfied if Donald Trump wins the nomination? 56 percent of Republican primary voters tonight in New Hampshire, no matter who they support, say they will be satisfied if Trump's the nominee. But this number here, 43 percent will be dissatisfied, that shows the work ahead for Donald Trump if he becomes the nominee that he will have to do some healing within the party, Jake.
TAPPER: Very interesting, David Chalian. Thank you so much.
And I suppose it is a sign of the times, Erin Burnett, that it is good news that only half of the Republican electorate believes the lie about the 2020 election and the other half is actually reality-based.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, it is the incredible thing, right? You look at it and say, oh, does that put a ceiling for Trump tonight? And then you take a step back and say, wow, half of a population that includes undeclared voters, things that the election was stolen, glass half full or glass half empty.
You know, as you look at what is happening right now, though, Jake, these exit poll numbers that we have, Kaitlan, from your sources in Trump world, how do they see these numbers so far, specifically some of those things that David was just saying that at least on the face of it, don't look great for him right now?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, I think the most remarkable was that 50 percent said that they still think he's fit for office even if he's a convicted felon and 47 percent only said no. I mean, when you look at what Republicans are saying, a lot of people who have been voting for Nikki Haley, just anecdotally speaking, have said It's a vote against Donald Trump. But a lot of Republicans even those who are her biggest surrogates have said they'll still vote for Trump even if he is a convicted felon, including the governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu.
But I think what the Trump team is hoping --
TAPPER: Including Nikki Haley.
COLLINS: Very, very few Republicans who say that they're backing someone else that say they still wouldn't ultimately vote for him over Joe Biden. But the Trump campaign is walking into this tonight They want to end the 2024 primary race.
Trump said earlier He doesn't care if Nikki Haley drops out or not, depending on how tonight goes, his political advisers very much do. Because they understand that if she gets out of the race tonight, then it turns to the general election, and they can start focusing their attention but also their dollars and their resources on that general election. And that is something that they're eager to do and not instead have this drag out for three more weeks. Now that's walking into this with an air of confidence after Iowa last week We don't know yet what the voters are going to decide, so they're obviously having to watch that as well.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: And, look, this is an electorate here that is probably as favorable as it's going to get for Nikki Haley. It's more moderate. New Hampshire is a state that likes to kind of countervail the conventional wisdom.
However, as we look at these exit poll numbers, as Kaitlan pointed out, those last two questions, how people would feel if Trump won the nomination and whether or not he would be fit for the presidency, those are actually two numbers that you would not necessarily expect them to be in Trump's favor but they are.
And as we go through this night, we just need to keep in mind that Trump has already been showing some inroads with some constituencies that in the past he has really struggled with, suburban people, women in particular. And so we cannot assume that just because it's a more moderate environment that he is going to struggle more. And we may be seeing shifting happening in this Republican electorate, as we've been seeing over the course of his entire tenure in American politics.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, that's going to be the big question about, the strength of Trump's coalition and his viability as a general election candidate on those suburban voters, on people who are much more moderate. Polls coming in have clearly shown that Haley is dominating with those more moderate voters.
But back in 2016, when Trump won this primary and barely lost in the general election, he dominated among conservative voters and in more moderate voters, according to the exit polls at the time. Is that the case now? And does he have how much ground does he have to make up? Because Iowa was one thing, but New Hampshire will be contested in the general election. There are four electoral votes that could potentially decide a very close election year. So, Donald Trump's ability to expand, hit beyond very conservative voters is going to be key to it.
BURNETT: And interesting how strongly some of these voters, Jake, hold their opinions.
BURNETT: What was it -- when Nikki Haley spoke to Dana earlier today, twice, she said, I think that he's fit for office, talking about Trump. And then once she said, well, of course, I wouldn't be running if I thought it was fit. But you even get that confusion from Nikki Haley herself.
TAPPER: Yes. Although I have to say, I mean, as David Chalian pointed out, trouble signs for Donald Trump, even if he were to win tonight, 43 percent of the electorate, according to these early exit polls, saying they would not be satisfied if Trump would be the nominee.
TAPPER: That is a place that the Biden campaign will go. And remember, New Hampshire is a state that went for Biden over Donald Trump, Erin Burnett.
We expect votes to start coming in after the top of the hour once most polling places close across the Granite State. We're going to keep an eye on last minute turnout. We're going to take you inside another key voting site in a second.
Our live coverage of the New Hampshire primary, it's just getting started. Stick with us.
TAPPER: And we're back with our live coverage of the New Hampshire primary with ballot cams capturing the action at key polling places. This is the second Republican presidential contest of 2024. It could effectively decide the fight for the nomination.
John Berman is in Manchester, New Hampshire, right now, inside a polling place. John, what kind of a turn out are you seeing there?
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, right now, Jake, actually, there's no line at all in Manchester Ward 6. Manchester, the most populous city in the state of New Hampshire, the turnout, I'd say, has been robust, maybe not or shattering, come on in, the water is warm here. When people do show up, they come here to this table, see my favorite poll worker, Sheila, here, and they have to decide what primary they're voting in.
You get a blue slip if you're going to vote in the Democratic primary, a pink slip if you're going to vote in the Republican primary. Remember, undeclared voters can choose which primary they vote in. And I've been told by far the majority of voters today are voting in the Republican primary, which isn't surprising, of course, because President Biden not even competing in the Democratic primary.
Now, Jake, you asked me about turnout. If you look at this black machine over here, that is where all the ballots go. We can't shoot the ballots themselves but that's the machine that counts and tabulates the ballots. And when these voters are done feeding their ballots into the machine, I can give you a live look at how many voters have cast a ballot.
All right, that voter is going to put their ballot in. And, sir, why don't you come over here, let's shoot this number right here. You can push in right there, as of 6:21 P.M., 2,736 voters have cast ballots in Manchester Ward 6, 2,700. The record here is 3,700.
Now, what isn't known is how many are Democratic ballots, how many are Republican ballots. More than 2,100 will be a record for Republicans. I've been told there are a lot of write-in ballots. You want to know how many? I was told by the moderator here, that many, a visual demonstration of a stack of ballots that high for write-ins here.
Now, once voters vote, they come outside of the hallway and we are allowed to talk to them. I'm okay there's a voter right here. What's your name?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Judy (ph).
BERMAN: You cast your ballot in the first in the nation primary. Who do you vote for?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted for President Trump.
BERMAN: You voted for Donald Trump. Why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because we had four amazing years. We had no wars, no wars for four years. We had energy independence. We had safe borders. We were taking care of our veterans.
BERMAN: Are you an undeclared voter or a registered Republican?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a registered Republican.
BERMAN: Who do you vote for eight years ago? If you were here in 2016, do you remember?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted for Trump.
BERMAN: You're a hardcore Donald Trump voter turning out here in Manchester Ward 6. Great to see you. Thank you so much.
Now, Donald Trump in 2016, when this was a competitive primary, he won this ward by about 20 points. So, you would expect to see a lot of voters like that picking up here. We will wait and see at the end of the night how he does. Jake?
TAPPER: All right. John Berman in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Let's go to the magic wall now and talk to John King about where the votes are and where we're looking especially tonight.
John, earlier, Dana Bash said that Nikki Haley's folks are keeping an eye out for -- I think it was the Bedford suburb of Manchester, New Hampshire. Where are you looking?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's one of the places we will look. Let me walk through it. Just for people who maybe didn't follow overnight, you see that filled in there, you see that number there. Six votes were cast at midnight. It's tradition in Dixville, Nikki Haley got them all. So, you see, she already has the only votes that have been counted. It's just it's probably visually a stunner to people to see we have votes ready.
So, where was John Berman? He was in Manchester. This is one place we are going to watch because, as he noted, it's the most populous city in the state. It also is a very gritty, blue-collar place where Donald Trump, you just heard that voter, tends to do well. So, there's a lot of people and a lot of Trump voters, very key, Manchester absolutely key to Donald Trump.
So what did Dana mention? She mentioned Bedford. It's the neighboring suburb. It's just outside of Manchester. If you're familiar with Manchester, you come the southern part of the city, you see the New Hampshire Mall. Off you go into more leafy, beautiful Bedford.
Now, why are they worried about that, right? I just want to go back in time. Number one, 12th most populous township in the state, so a decent amount of people there, number one. Number two, though, if you go back to 2016, the Republican primary, Trump won it. But he only got 28 percent of the vote if you round that up there. And, remember, in 2016, Donald Trump won the suburbs, often in the primaries, including in New Hampshire, and then narrowly against Hillary Clinton in the general election. It has been since then, 2018, 2020, 2022. We saw the suburbs revolt against Donald Trump.
Now, these are Republicans, but also undeclared voters, so it is a great test, a lot of independents in the suburbs. So, as Dana points that out, it's one of the places we'll watch.
So, let's come back. This is the 2016 map.
Worth remembering, this is Nikki Haley's best chance, because undeclared voters in the state. Also worth remembering Donald Trump won this state. This was his first win in 2016. So, he's not weak in New Hampshire. He's actually quite strong. So, it's Haley's best demographic, meaning undeclared people can vote, and the Republican electorate tends to be more moderate than, say, in Iowa or South Carolina, but it's still a strong Donald Trump state.
So, come back here, just one more quick point, and then you ask anything you want. You always look for places that have a history of getting it right, right? David Chalian sent me a note this morning. I'm walking through some of that, checking it out myself. So, here's one up here in the north, right? One of the things you want to look at is throughout the diversity of the state. In the rural north, Lancaster, a little small town, 106 to the 260, so, it's right in there in terms of population. They've gotten it right in every New Hampshire, Republican primary for 70 years. So, it's a place you keep your eye on.
Just one more, we come out to the coast right here.
TAPPER: Might be the same 20 people just getting it right every time.
KING: Just above, this is Dover here. You come down below Dover and Newington along the coast here. You're going to watch as well, because this is where the people are.
One last quick thing, we'll just show you these counties. The counties that are now the lightest gray, those are your suburban counties. Trump did well in those counties in 2016, absolutely essential to Nikki Haley, right down here tonight.
TAPPER: All right, John King. It's crunch time in New Hampshire. Most polling places are set to close at the top of the hour. Stay right here as we track every vote and bring you all the up-to-the-minute results on this momentous night in the 2024 election.
TAPPER: It is primary night in New Hampshire. Time is running out for voters to weigh in on what is now a head-to-head fight for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump versus Nikki Haley.
Let's go over to Kylie Atwood now. She's at Nikki Haley's campaign headquarters in the New Hampshire capital of Concord. Kylie, so much at stake tonight. What are you hearing from the campaign?
KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, this is one of the most consequential days of Nikki Haley's political career to-date. And those around her and Haley herself, they're projecting confidence and optimism. I spoke with campaign aides today who say that folks are feeling good.
One of those aides said that they felt really good about the energy that they have seen in New Hampshire over the last week. They think that Haley is going to outperform some of the recent polls with one aide telling me they believe that she's going to come within 15 points of former President Trump.
Of course, we'll have to wait and see what it actually shakes out and looks like. But sources close to the campaign acknowledged that the stakes are incredibly high for her. The campaign says that Haley is feeling good, that she's trying to have fun out there on the campaign trail.
And, notably, it's important to note that she is around people that she feels comfortable with. That was the case in Iowa. It's the case here in New Hampshire. She's with aides who have been with her, some of them for more than a decade now.
And she's also been on the trail. And she's tonight with members of her family as they begin to track these votes coming in New Hampshire.
TAPPER: All right. Kylie Atwood at a Nikki Haley headquarters in Concord, New Hampshire.
As voting continues in the Granite State, let's check in with Boris Sanchez. He's at a polling place in Belmont, New Hampshire, outside Manchester that we've heard the Haley campaign is paying a lot of attention to tonight, Boris Sanchez. Tell us what you're seeing.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jake. We're only about 20-ish minutes or so from this polling location closing, and turnout has exceeded expectations here at last check at Eclipse. What the turnout was back in the 2020 primary. Very quickly, I just want to go to our friend, Tom. Tom, could you quickly give us a read on what the number of ballots cast is right now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, we're at 2,371.
SANCHEZ: 2,371, the peak, the record-setting primary was back in 2016. That was about 2,600 votes at this location. So, you can imagine that is a strong sign of where turnout and enthusiasm is.
Very quickly, I want to respect the rules of the primary and get you outside so we could have a conversation with two folks, Trump supporters, a husband and wife. She's in law enforcement. They both believe that Donald Trump would be best when it comes to public safety and the issue of education.
Thank you both for with us. Remind of your names.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vanessa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Doug.
SANCHEZ: And Doug.
And at one point, Vanessa, you were telling me earlier you supported Donald Trump in 2016 and in 2020 but there was something about Ron DeSantis that caught your eye. Ultimately, you chose to go with Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is correct. So, DeSantis in the beginning was telling me all the things I wanted to know about our country and how it was going to get better and improvements and how he was going to go about getting resources to make that happen.
But then somewhere along the way, later on in his campaigning, it was he wasn't giving me so much the how is I'm going to. I need to know the how, the when, the whys, and Donald Trump is giving me that.
SANCHEZ: And, Doug, did you ever consider voting for somebody else, perhaps Nikki Haley?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, I've always been a Trump supporter.
SANCHEZ: The big question, of course, what happens if he potentially gets convicted? Do you still support him in the general election?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do. I don't believe the convictions will stick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right, yes, I mean if he's convicted, it's still political, in my view, that he was attacked. He's never been indicted on what happened back on January 6th. So, at this point, he's innocent in my eyes until proven guilty.
SANCHEZ: Doug and Vanessa, we very much appreciate you sharing your perspective with us. Thank you for being patient. Jake, we'll send it back to you.
TAPPER: All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.
Now, let's go to David Chalian, who has more on our exit polls, and specifically, the differences between Haley voters and Trump voters.
CHALIAN: Yes. Jake, one of the questions we ask is sort of, are you out there voting because you so strongly support your candidate or are you voting because you really dislike the opponent? Among Trump voters in the New Hampshire Republican primary today, 77 percent tell us they're voting for Trump because they strongly favor his candidacy. This is part of that bond Trump has with his voters. 19 percent says they like him, but they have some reservations. Only 3 percent are voting for him because they dislike Nikki Haley or his opponents.
Look how that contrasts with Haley supporters. The plurality of Haley supporters, 39 percent are voting for her because they dislike Donald Trump. They dislike her opponent. 33 percent say they strongly favor her, that's why they're voting for her. 27 percent say they're voting for her with some reservations.
And then in terms of how are you going to feel depending on who wins the nomination? Well, here, Trump voters feeling if Haley wins the nomination, 75 percent of them are going to be dissatisfied if Haley ends up winning the nomination.
That gets even larger for Haley supporters if Trump wins the nomination. 88 percent of Haley supporters say they will feel dissatisfied if Trump wins the nomination. That's what Donald Trump will have to work on to bring these folks in the fold if indeed he does emerge with the nomination, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. David Chalian, thanks so much. Let's go to Anderson Cooper in New York. Anderson?
COOPER: Yes. Jake, these numbers are fascinating, a lot to unpack. David Axelrod, what stands out to you?
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, Nikki Haley has been pointed to this New Hampshire primary as the place where she was going to break through, and part of it was because of the possibility of all these independent voters who could come into the Republican primary.
The fact that they're talking about nearly a 50-50 split between Republicans and independents, I think, is a hopeful sign for her. And she has to do it here, because if she doesn't do it here, the donors who are supporting her are going to lose heart. And that's what ends campaigns. That's why DeSantis left. This is a make-or-break moment for her.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, listen, this just reminds us New Hampshire is not Iowa. It's a very different electorate. It's much more similar to a general election. You've got a Republican governor, for example, who's pro-choice, much more favorable for Republicans or independents who want to stop Trump.
If these exit polls even moderately hold, it could be a better than expected night for Nikki Haley. But I think the reality is this. She's got to come within single digits of Donald Trump to really justify staying in the race. She saw a donor bump after DeSantis got out. She is on the airwaves in South Carolina. They're saying she's going to be there doing events. But she's got to show she's within fighting distance to keep this primary alive, and we'll find out soon.
KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think these enthusiasm numbers are really interesting too because they actually point to problems that Donald Trump will have in a general election. I mean, you have, you know, 77 percent of people voting for him saying they're voting for him in favor of him.
But you have essentially the rest of the Republican electorate in a more moderate state where independents vote saying that they're voting against him. And so I think what this actually shows you, and I think what should be a sign of hope for Nikki Haley, you know, if she can stay within striking distance, she can make a case, hey, look ahead to Super Tuesday, look to these states where the electorate looks a little more moderate, looks a little more independent, and there is a lot of hesitancy about Donald Trump.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, the number that matters is what Nikki Haley does among Republicans because it will be Republicans, not non-Republicans, not unaffiliated, you know, behavioral liberals coming into Republican primary to decide --
BEDINGFIELD: But a Republican electorate that looks more -- that looks less like Iowa.
JENNINGS: There is not another state on the map where the electorate is going to look like this. So, I agree with Axe. This is where she had to do something. It looks like maybe if these exits are true, she did.
But, ultimately, to win the Republican nomination for president, you have to be liked and voted for by actual Republicans. And if you look at these exits, Trump has his Republican voters. She has people who are soft Republicans or non-Republicans. That is not going to be the case moving forward.
Now, it does portend some issues for him in the fall. I mean, you got these independent voters who obviously don't care for him and don't want him to be around anymore. But if you're worried about enthusiasm for a candidate, not for nothing, but the president of the United States got massive enthusiasm problems going on in his own base, which I would say far exceed what Trump's got going on in his.
AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I know your focus is Republicans. I'm glad that it is. I think that the big picture of New Hampshire is it does sort of symbolize the conversation around swing voters, but specifically suburban voters, where Trump has lost ground, as John mentioned, the 2018, the midterms.
This is where there started to be a softening for him.
And this is his, I think, one of the final hurdles to say, look, this is my party. It's all populace all the time, no matter where you live, no matter who you are. This limited government stuff is over. This stuff about foreign affairs and policy, it's over. This is the electorate, I think, that should there be a very tight race, et cetera, it will really, I think, put a feather in his cap on saying this is mine.
COOPER: Van, do you think Haley needs to come in within single digits or win tonight?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So, I don't think this a win. What I see based on the early exit, the antibodies are trying to kick in, like people are coming out. They're saying, please, no. People saying, please stop Trump somehow. So, you're seeing the antibodies kicking in.
For me, it's not just Nikki Haley that's on the line tonight. There were three theories about how you stop Trump. One was attack him frontally, punch the bully in the mouth. Chris Christie did that, broke his hand. That was not the answer.
Second theory, out-Trump Trump. Be more Trump than Trump. Be younger or be different. DeSantis tried that. Vivek Ramaswamy tried that, buried alive in Iowa. There's only one theory left. Get him one-on-one with a normal Republican and see if you can knock this guy out. If she can't do that in New Hampshire, this thing is all over.
AXELROD: I mean, what seems pretty clear from these numbers is that there are people who -- and this was their theory. There are independents and Democratic-leaning independents who migrated over to this primary because they wanted to make the one statement about Trump. And that is not a replicable model She's going to have to start doing well among Republicans.
After these first four contests, by the way, these races become winner take all. So, it's not like you can get 45 percent and 45 percent your way to the nomination.
GRIFFIN: But these exit polls spell disaster for Donald Trump in a general election, even against a historically unpopular Joe Biden.
COOPER: We're closing in on the end of voting in most of New Hampshire, the first significant round of results coming up. Our cameras and correspondents are in position to bring you every moment, including the big reveal of the winner. It's New Hampshire's choice and there's much more ahead.
TAPPER: Right now, New Hampshire voters have extraordinary power to shape the fight for their Republican presidential nomination. Most polling places across the Granite State are scheduled to close in just a matter of minutes on this very important primary night.
Let's check in at some key polling places. Sara Sidner is in Concord, New Hampshire, the capital.
Sara, your location is set to close as soon. What's going on there?
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We're exactly 14 minutes and they are serious about all of the rules here.
I want to show you what's going on. So if you look to my left, you will see a big black box. That is the ballot box, so when people get done with their vote, they come and put their votes in that and then they leave. There have been 1,855 ballots counted so far.
And to give you some idea of where that is, it's about 56 to 60 percent of the total number of voters in this ward, which we are hearing is a very, very high voting area. So we're about 60 percent of the folks who are registered to vote. If you look behind me, you can see where people are voting just there.
You see those stripes to the red, white, and blue people go in there. They pick their choice. And that is where they vote and they sign in here. But here's a fun thing, right over there. We've been seeing people slowly coming in. And that is where new voters registered to vote and then they go in and vote.
Now, here's what happens once they do that. The whole place goes wild. You know why? Because they pick this bell up after their registered and they go to vote for the very first time. And this is what you hear.
More cowbell, Jake. That's what you hear at ward ten in Concord, New Hampshire, when a new voter votes for the very first time.
TAPPER: Very nice. I've got a fever and the only answer -- the only prescription is more cowbells.
Sara Sidner, thanks so much.
Let's go back to the Kate Bolduan. She's still at that polling place in Nashua.
Kate, give us an update on your location and how many undeclared or independent voters are turning out?
BOLDUAN: Absolutely well, I may not be able to top a cow bell. I can top you with new vote totals, with what the voters are saying here tonight. They're just got the latest vote count, the latest tabulation there, the latest we have here and nationalist ward three is 2,138 votes have been cast for context. There are just under 5,000 registered voters in Nashua's board three.
After they cast their ballot, one of the big options and important options that folks in ward three take a lot of pride in, is undeclared voters registration becoming as I've coined it probably in a non- scientific way re-undeclaring. And this is where they go right to this table, where they can, once again and become an undeclared voter. And the latest and its actually been updated since we've got our latest count, 636 people stopped by this table to undeclared once again, which is about 13 percent of all registered voters, about 30 percent of the vote count that we have -- we have here.
Come outside because we're going to follow the rules somewhat if we must because this is where we can -- we wanted these undeclared voters who undeclared once again, is Kevin Kelly (ph).
It's great to meet you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice to meet you, too.
BOLDUAN: Who did you vote for this evening?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nikki Haley.
BOLDUAN: And why did you vote for Nikki Haley?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a vote against Trump. I think it would be better to have her against Biden in the elections and who would be Trump and her.
BOLDUAN: Do you consider yourself generally independent Republican or Democrat?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrat?
BOLDUAN: So when you undeclared, you voted for Nikki Haley, if it was Nikki Haley against Joe Biden in a general election, who are you voting for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe Biden.
BOLDUAN: What is the issue you care most about what -- this election?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a good question. I guess the economy. I don't think that Trump would have done a good job with the economy is fighting whatever.
BOLDUAN: Kevin Kelly, it's great to meet you. Thank you for sticking around and just chilly evening. Really appreciate it.
One of the many undeclared voters voted tonight and went back to that table to re-undeclared so they can have that - they can maintain that status next time around -- guys.
TAPPER: All right. Kate Bolduan, thanks so much.
Let's go to Dana Bash now in Manchester, New Hampshire.
And, Dana, you have a panel there to talk about that, but that that voter right there, that's exactly what Republicans warn against, but it is also just one of the things that happens in New Hampshire's crazy primary. We've seen it happen before with Democrats crossing over to vote for Republicans and Republicans crossing over to vote for Democrats.
BASH: Absolutely, Jake, it's what makes what happens here on any given election in the presidential season. Really, anyone's guess, despite everything that is predicted ahead of time.
Chris Wallace, we are watching Kate with Kevin Kelly and saying kind of what Jake was alluding to there, that there are so many of these undeclared voters that are so unique to New Hampshire and they're deliberate and they are strategic in many ways.
CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: Oh, absolutely. And they could swing an election and if our exit polls turn out to be correct, 47 percent of the Republican people have voted the Republican primary, being undeclared, independent voters would be a record. The record was 45 percent in the Mitt Romney election in 2012. Having said that, as much as 47 percent and the undeclared, we think we assume are going to go for Haley, it may not be enough because Trump is leading in the latest polls by more among the registered Republicans than Haley was beating Trump among the registered undeclared.
In fact, I was talking to top member of the Trump campaign team this afternoon who said, we would really get worried if 55 percent of the electorate were undeclared. In the high Florida, they would have surprised, they thought maybe the low 40s. But even in 47 percent, I don't think they believe that's going to be enough to put Nikki Haley either over the top, or especially close.
KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I mean, Dana, my favorite thing about these nights and we're already on the emotional roller coaster of when the polls close, we start to get this information. You know, when I -- when I got off the that overnight flight, we were on from Des Moines and we landed here in Manchester, after that Iowa caucus, everyone here was so down on Nikki Haley's chances, they were like, there's no way she's going to pull out here in New Hampshire.
And that was how it felt up until I would say midday today. And when I started hearing from, people, I've talked to you since the Mitt Romney primary in 2012, who really have the state wired, and they're starting to say they're looking at these exit polling numbers in there saying, you know what, maybe Nikki Haley has some -- there's more here than we thought.
Now, we may -- they may be on the backside of this emotional roller coaster here in a couple of hours, but I will say kind of we're sitting here tonight, that suspense is very, very real. People really are wondering if Nikki Haley's going to surprise tonight.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: And it is all because of those undeclared voters. But as I've been spending a week here, in the last several months, really undeclared voters is not simply independent who may be so inclined to vote for Haley. It spans the gamut from Bernie Sanders supporters to Donald Trumps supporters who simply don't like the Republican Party necessarily, or want to be aligned with it.
So when we talk about undeclared voters, Trump is going to get a sliver. The question is, how many?
ZELENY: So they want to keep that -- the Haley team wants to keep that very low. The Trump team, of course, is thinking, at least a quarter of them are so, so as I've talked to voters for the last several days here, at least Haley has shown promise here for months. They've done that. This is the place for her.
I met one yesterday, Carroll Booth (ph), a teacher who left work to go meet Nikki Haley at a brewery, and she said the reason she's supporting her because she can serve eight years in office, so that generational change.
ZELENY: But look at what's happened here over the last eight days. You mentioned Iowa for all on that plane together.
Eight days, DeSantis is out of the race, it's down to two people. I don't think that we would have thought that necessarily.
WALLACE: And can I say one thing about this though? You know, Trump was saying, yeah, but, you know, you can have Democrats who come in and vote in this and they cant, you cannot, because you have to have read -- de-registered as a Democrat and registered as an undeclared by October 6th, and fewer than 4,000 people did that.
So these are genuine independents that we're talking about here or the undeclared. They're not Democratic voters who decided to come in and mess up the Republican primary.
BASH: Which is such a key part of the DNA of New Hampshire, to be independent, you know, to live free or die state, and to genuinely kind of switch over. I mean, how many voters have you all talk to here who have said, I have voted for Democrats, I voted for Republicans without thinking twice about it? Because its just what they have done.
And to your point about the fact that these independent undeclared voters, the hope in the Nikki Haley camp is that the majority go to her. It is true because Donald Trump now is establishment because, he was president, he still has the appeal to people who don't like politics, don't register as a party and come in and vote as undeclared independent voters, and do it just because Donald Trump is on the ballot.
HUNT: Yeah. No, for sure. And it's a mistake to think of these this bloc of undeclareds as centrist, right? Like that is kind of our --re perhaps our instinct, but that's not necessarily the case for all the reasons that you laid out.
And, you know, I think one of the most fascinating things about some of what we're going to learn here. And I think you're going to see the Haley campaign and her supporters tried to capitalize on this. If in fact she has a better showing here tonight than she otherwise, might, it strengthens her argument with Republicans that she is capable of winning in a general election.
And they have not really -- one of the major things since we haven't seen in this race throughout the entire arc of it, there has been no one that has been able to stand up and credibly say, I could beat Donald Trump in the nominating contest and do better against Biden.
This electorate is one that is much closer. The dynamics that shape it, or some of the same dynamics that are going to shape the electorates in Arizona and Georgia in the states that decide the election. That's her all -- that's her whole argument here.
So, if she can come out of here and be able to make that argument more strongly to donors who would be willing to fund or not her continued a campaign, and then whether or not Republican voters buy it, I mean, that's really the only path I see for her this point.
ZELENY: And at a rally in Rochester last Wednesday, I'm thinking this exact point. Two friends came. One who thought that Nikki Haley is too conservative, one thought that she's too liberal, but they both were voting for her because she could restore the Republican Party.
So we heard that again and again and again. It is an uphill battle, even if she wins in the state and that's a tall order at this point. But for now at least this is definitely much more of a race than it might have seemed with that Iowa 32 percent, but its all about the margin tonight. And we'll find that out.
But just remember even if she does well tonight and I'm not being a naysayer about Nikki Haley, her next shot is South Carolina in a month. And right now in the polls, she's down by about 40 points to Donald Trump. I mean, one of the things we're talking about here is independents coming into a Republican primary, and having their say and that's (INAUDIBLE) allowed and all of that.
On the other hand, it is the Republican nomination and it's really hard to win the Republican nomination if registered Republican voters are overwhelmingly for your opponent and for her to stay in this race to late February -- late February, which is when the South Carolina primary is, and she trails by a lot and it's a tall order.
BASH: That's the whole argument that the Trump campaign makes over and over again, which and you hear the former president saying it on a loop, which is that she is appealing too much in this Republican contest to independents. He calls them RINOs, but to people who are not tried and true conservatives.
In this memo, that the Haley campaign released today, which is sort of a messaging strategy memo from her campaign manager, she makes the argument that South Carolina has more of a similar electorate to New Hampshire than people realize.
We have to sort of say, okay, pump the brakes on that a little bit. Yes. People who are not registered Democrats can vote -- registered Republicans can vote, but Democrats who vote in the primary. That's earlier, I think its just a couple of weeks.
WALLACE: Yeah, a week from Saturday.
BASH: They can't do it. And the percentage of independent voters there is nowhere near what it is here.
ZELENY: Nowhere near.
HUNT: It's not. My question for South Carolina for her is what has happened to the country club Republicans that lived down in and around Charleston have they left the party? Are they actually going to come out for her? Are they willing to go against Trump?
I mean, the electorate down there is so for the former president is just pretty overwhelming.
ZELENY: But bringing it back to New Hampshire, it all matters the margin here. This could be an academic discussion, or it could not be, but -- look, I think any polls now are essentially outdated. So what happens tonight, this race potentially starts new, or it doesn't.
BASH: Yeah. All right. Great discussion.
Jake, I'm going to toss it back to you.