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New Hampshire's independent voters grapple with critical decisions in primary

New Hampshire's independent voters are a valuable voting bloc, making up more than 40% of the state's voters -- with many still making up their minds on who will receive their support in Tuesday's primary contest.

"I've changed my mind about a dozen times so far," voter Mark LaCroix said to ABC News. "And as we go to different events, we hear different things from candidates and I say, 'Oh, no -- that makes sense. And then you go to the next event and go, 'That makes sense, too.' So you kind of go back and forth."

ABC News sat down with six highly engaged voters we met at campaign events around New Hampshire, a few of them attending as many as 30 events this primary season. All of the panelists identified as independents, which means they can request a Republican or Democratic ballot on primary day.

MORE: New Hampshire's primary rarely picks presidents but can still be influential

Among the panelists was an understanding of the power of New Hampshire's independent voters. This year, independents could help the state have the final say in the GOP presidential primary race.

"I'm looking for someone who really can unite the two sides," said panelist and independent voter Marie Mulroy. "And I'm not even sure if that's even possible anymore. But I do think from the standpoint of independents, I think we have enough of a voting bloc to get someone who's kind of kind of pushes to the middle."

PHOTO: ABC News sat down with six highly engaged voters we met at campaign events around New Hampshire, a few of them attending as many as 30 events this primary season.  (ABC News)
PHOTO: ABC News sat down with six highly engaged voters we met at campaign events around New Hampshire, a few of them attending as many as 30 events this primary season. (ABC News)

GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley is courting these undecided voters in an effort to take New Hampshire, but it's unclear if her strategy will be a winning one -- even with two people remaining in the race: herself and former President Donald Trump.

"Historically, if you're betting your campaign's success on independent voters voting in the party primary for you, you're fighting uphill and then some," Saint Anselm College Professor Chris Galdieri told ABC News. "If Haley's not able to put together a win here, I think then you have to ask 'Well, where's her next best shot?'"

Haley is down more than 10 points against Trump, according to the latest polling averages from 538. Those numbers have even changed in the last few days since Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended his campaign over the weekend.

MORE: New Hampshire's GOP electorate won't look like Iowa's

Three panelists were split between the GOP presidential candidates: one preferred Haley; one preferred Trump; one was undecided after DeSantis' exit from the race.

Even though the Republican contest is a competitive one, some on the ABC News panel are considering voting Democrat this year. Four people said they would "likely" or "most definitely" pull a Republican ballot; the other two said they were leaning toward a Democratic ballot.

This year, half of the group was highly considering Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips, the Minnesota lawmaker challenging President Joe Biden and trailing by more than 50 points, according to a recent CNN/UNH poll.

Biden and the Democratic National Committee removed the president's name from the New Hampshire ballot because they wanted the more diverse South Carolina to be first this time.

MORE: Biden's not on ballot in NH's primary, but Dems still want him to win. Here's how.

The delegates won't even count -- but it's possible Phillips' numbers could raise eyebrows.

Everyone on the panel ABC News interviewed agreed that Biden would get embarrassed in New Hampshire.

"My vote for Dean [Phillips] is against Biden," said panelist Mary LaCroix, who is married to fellow panelist Mark LaCroix.

The panelists' answers were a shift from just four years ago. In the 2020 general election, four of six panelists ABC News spoke to backed Trump, one of them supported Biden, and the last one wanted a third-party candidate.

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One thing this group does seem to agree on is who will win on Tuesday: Trump.

"I think President Trump is going to win," said panelist Cooper Walsh. "I think after New Hampshire, I think if he wins the state, Nikki Haley has to win it in order for it to continue. But if she loses the state ... the election is over."

Mulroy said that while she isn't a Trump supporter, she feels like it's understood the former president will win.

"I don't want him to win, but I think he will win. It's wishful thinking that he's not," she said.

But unlike parts of the country after the 2020 election, this group is seemingly at peace with their deep differences.

"We're all civil. Whatever candidate is elected, we have to respect each other. Everyone in this country is right for who they vote for," said New Hampshire independent voter Tammy Boucher.

ABC News' Desiree Adib, Kelsey Walsh and Hajah Bah contributed to this report.

New Hampshire's independent voters grapple with critical decisions in primary originally appeared on abcnews.go.com