Donald Trump Defeats Nikki Haley in Her Home State Primary

trump south carolina

Former President Donald Trump has won the South Carolina Republican primary, demolishing his sole opponent, former Governor Nikki Haley, in her home state. The Associated Press was among the first to call the race shortly after polls closed at 7 p.m., basing it on AP VoteCast — a survey of South Carolina Republican voters.

“An even bigger win than anticipated,” Trump said from his watch party podium in South Carolina following the AP call, per USA Today, though the final numbers had not yet come in. “This is fantastic evening,” he added. “It’s an early evening.”

In an NBC News exit poll, Trump overwhelmingly won the support of men and women (68 percent and 62 percent, respectively), voters under 45 and those over 45 (64 percent and 65 percent), voters with and without college degrees (51 percent and 75 percent), and self-identified Republicans (73 percent). 

The former president has swept every Republican primary contest so far. After a blowout win in the Iowa caucuses, many of Trump’s opponents — including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy — withdrew from the race and fell in line behind the former president. Trump went on to secure a decisive victory over Haley in New Hampshire. 

Haley was polling 30 points behind Trump going into South Carolina, and lost the Nevada primary earlier this month to the “none of these candidates” option listed on the ballot, while Trump easily won the state’s caucuses a few days later. 

Trump’s domination in South Carolina, the state Haley governed for six years, is a mortal wound to her already stumbling candidacy. With Super Tuesday, arguably the primary season’s most consequential single day, just over the horizon, Haley has yet to make a notable dent in Trump’s trajectory to the general election, and her own party seems determined to force her out of the race. Regardless, Haley remains defiant in her refusal to suspend her campaign, a move which would essentially hand an uncontested nomination to Trump and the Republican National Conference in July. 

On Tuesday, Haley reaffirmed her commitment to continue her bid for the nomination. “I’m campaigning every day until the last person votes,” she said. 

Instead of bowing out, Haley has noticeably ramped up her attacks against Trump. In her Tuesday speech to South Carolina voters, she referred to him as “unhinged and unstable” while skewering “politicians who publicly embrace Trump” but “privately dread him.” 

“They know what a disaster he’s been and will continue to be for our party. They are just too afraid to say it out loud. Well I’m not afraid to say the hard truth out loud. I feel no need to kiss the ring, I have no fear of Trump’s retribution,” Haley said. 

In the early stages of the primary, Haley was able to avoid incurring the full ire of Trump’s campaign. As previously reported by Rolling Stone, Trump’s team viewed Haley as a convenient tool to help them “ratfuck” DeSantis and foment infighting between candidates. But as the field narrowed, the former president set his sights on completely obliterating his former U.N. ambassador’s electoral steam. As one adviser put it, Trump’s campaign went into full-blown “wreck-Nikki-Haley mode.”

The wrecking ball was on full display in Trump’s response to her Tuesday speech. On Truth Social, the former president called Haley “stupid” and claimed “the only money she is getting now is coming from Democrats. I know her well, and she just doesn’t have what it takes, and never will.” The former president later vowed that “anybody that makes a ‘Contribution’ to Birdbrain, from this moment forth, will be permanently barred from the MAGA camp.”

Ahead of the primary, Haley — who has attempted to position herself as a common-sense moderate on reproductive rights — backed a controversial Alabama Supreme Court ruling that deemed embryos created using in-vitro fertilization, or IVF, are legally considered people. “Embryos, to me, are babies,” she told NBC News before later attempting to soften to comments in an interview with Newsmax. The readjustment was overshadowed by Trump’s call for the state to “find an immediate solution to preserve the availability of IVF” in a statement on Friday. 

On Tuesday, Trump told voters at a Fox News town hall in Greenville, South Carolina, that he expected to win “bigly” against Haley. “She is here. She is down by 30, 35 points. And everybody knows her. You are not supposed to lose your home state, it shouldn’t happen anyway. And she is losing it bigly. Big — I said bigly.” The former president added that he believed Haley was staying in the race because she “doesn’t know how to get out.” 


“They are trying to hurt me because of the general election, so the Democrats are giving her money and she is playing into the game,” he added. “I think she just can’t herself to get out. Look, if she was doing well, I’d understand that but she is doing very poorly.” 

Trump’s prediction was correct, of course. The former president did win “bigly” in South Carolina, and while Haley may continue to hold out for a last-ditch miracle that may land her the nomination, as of now her campaign is a lost cause.

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