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

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

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Originally published