Wisconsin exit poll results: 1 in 3 GOP voters would abandon party if Cruz or Trump is nominee

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Tuesday's Wisconsin Primary Seen as Great Hope for Anti-Trump Forces

Amid fierce clashes between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, one out of three Republicans voting in Wisconsin said they would abandon the party if either candidate is the ultimate nominee, according to early results from the NBC News Exit Poll.

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When asked what they would do if Cruz were the GOP nominee in November, only 65 percent of Wisconsin Republicans said they'd vote for him. The remainder instead would vote for a third-party candidate (18 percent), vote for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton (7 percent) or not vote at all (6 percent).

The numbers got slightly worse for the Republican Party when voters were asked to consider Trump as the GOP nominee. Just 61 percent said they'd vote for the brash businessman, with the rest defecting to a third party (16 percent) or to Clinton (10 percent) -- or simply staying home (9 percent).

Wisconsin has long been a swing state in the nation's presidential elections, but these numbers suggest the party may have substantial difficulty staying competitive with the Democrats in the Badger State this November.

RELATED: See voters and rallies from last night's primary:

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Wisconsin exit poll results: 1 in 3 GOP voters would abandon party if Cruz or Trump is nominee
A sign is taped to a brick wall outside a polling station for the Wisconsin presidential primary election in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States, April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks with a patron of Blue's restaurant while stopping for breakfast in Milwaukee, Wisconsin April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
Voters wait in line to casts their ballots at the Divine Peace Lutheran Church during voting for the Wisconsin U.S. presidential primary election in Milwaukee April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
A voter casts his ballot in the Wisconsin presidential primary election at a voting station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States, April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
Ellen Williamson, center, feeds her ballot as friends Erma Carter, left, and Earnestine Roberson stand by as people cast their votes at Parkway Elementary School in Glendale, Wis., on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Stickers are seen on a table at a polling stations for the Wisconsin presidential primary election in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States, April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
A voter casts his ballot at the Tippecanoe Library during voting for the Wisconsin U.S. presidential primary election in Milwaukee April 5, 2016. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - APRIL 05: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) celebrates with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (L) at the American Serb Hall Banquet Center after the polls closed on April 5, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Wisconsin (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
LARAMIE, WYOMING - APRIL 05: Supporters cheer as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks during a political rally on April 5, 2016 in Laramie, Wyoming. Sanders spoke to a large crowd on the University of Wyoming campus after winning the Wisconsin primary. (Photo by Theo Stroomer/Getty Images)
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign event in Laramie, Wyoming, U.S., on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. Sanders's Wisconsin win gives him fresh credibility to press on to the end against Hillary Clinton -- and even fans his team's long-shot ambition for a convention upset in July -- but doesn't fundamentally shake Clinton's grip on the nomination heading into New York in two weeks. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The crowd waiting to hear Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz speak cheers as results are announced at Serb Hall in Milwaukee on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. (Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. Cruz beat billionaire Donald Trump in Wisconsin's Republican presidential primary, embarrassing the front-runner, extending an increasingly bitter nomination fight and boosting the odds of a contested national convention in July. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Attendees cheer for Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas and 2016 presidential candidate, not pictured, during a campaign event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. Cruz beat billionaire Donald Trump in Wisconsin's Republican presidential primary, embarrassing the front-runner, extending an increasingly bitter nomination fight and boosting the odds of a contested national convention in July. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Supporters hold up signs as Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich
U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States, April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young
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