New Hampshire's "undeclared" voters could be key to wins in that state for GOP front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic contender Bernie Sanders, both of whom could win big depending on how independent voters cast their ballots in the early-voting state.
Around 40 percent of New Hampshire's undeclared voters, which is a larger group than either party has, is allowed to vote in either primary, reports The New York Times, but indications say many of the independent voters are leaning Republican.
"It's where New Hampshire can make the most difference this year," Janet Doyle, one of the undeclared voters, told The Times, saying she would consider Ohio Gov. John Kasich or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, or "anything to stop Trump."
Sanders, meanwhile, is courting independents in hopes of winning the undeclared vote like then-Sen. Barack Obama did in 2008, even though he lost to Hillary Clinton in the early state.
Sanders senior adviser Tad Devine said that his candidate's message of campaign finance reform and speaking out against Washington's special interests could attract the undeclared voters.
At the same time, many undeclared voters intend to vote on the Republican ballot, and the candidate who gathers the most undeclared voter would take the state primary.
"It's more likely that you could win due to undeclared voters in a big field than if you had three people running," said Andrew E. Smith, the director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center who wrote "The First Primary," a new book about the New Hampshire contest.
And many of the independents agree more with Trump than other candidates. According to a CNN/WMUR poll, 34 percent of the undeclared voters support Trump, while just 16 percent back Marco Rubio and 7 percent are looking at Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Kasich.
The New Hampshire primary is a vital boost for any candidate, as 15 out of the last 20 winners went on to become their party's nominees.
In the 2000 election, undeclared voters accounted for 29 percent of the 240,000 Republican votes and 27 percent of the 157,000 Democratic votes, but eight years later, 42 percent of the state's 289,000 Democratic votes came from the undeclared voters, with 31 percent going Republican.
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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