Election 2024

Donald Trump Defeats Nikki Haley in South Carolina Primary

Despite holding out against a seemingly inevitable Trump nomination, Haley lost in her home state.


In a seemingly inevitable march to the Republican nomination to challenge President Joe Biden in November, former President Donald Trump won the South Carolina Republican primary. The New York Times reported less than 30 minutes after polls closed that Trump had defeated former Gov. Nikki Haley, his only remaining challenger, in her own home state.

Haley's defeat should come as no surprise: Going into the primary, polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight gave Trump a 64 percent polling average compared to Haley's 33 percent. Notably, that number was the highest Haley had polled in her home state since at least April 2023.

But the defeat will likely still come as a blow to Haley, who reiterated this week that she intended to stay in the race "until the last person votes." To that end, she has planned over $1 million in ad spending in states that vote on "Super Tuesday," March 5. But with the resounding loss on her home turf signaling her increasingly uncertain path to the Republican nomination, it's less clear than ever what hopes she actually has of preventing the Trump-Biden rematch that voters do not want.

Despite framing her campaign as an alternative to both Trump and Biden, Haley did not win over her state's conservative base. In a recent CBS/YouGov poll, 76 percent of respondents said that Haley was not "part of the 'MAGA' movement," which nearly half of South Carolina Republicans consider themselves a part of.

Ironically, in the same poll, nearly 90 percent of respondents felt that Trump "might" or "would definitely" beat Biden in the general election, while only 75 percent said the same about Haley. A recent Quinnipiac poll found Biden leading Trump by 49–45, while Haley leads Biden 46–43 in a head-to-head matchup.