Trump Hands Nikki Haley Defeat on Her Home Turf

AP declares decisive victory for former president in South Carolina as polls close
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 24, 2024 6:14 PM CST
Trump Hands Nikki Haley Defeat on Her Home Turf
A voting sign is seen near a voting center at Croft Baptist Church, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, in Spartanburg, SC. The Republican primary is being held today in the state.   (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Former President Trump has easily won the South Carolina primary, dealing former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley a resounding defeat in her home state. The AP declared Trump the winner as polls closed statewide at 7pm. The AP based its race call on an analysis of AP VoteCast, a comprehensive survey of Republican South Carolina primary voters. The survey confirms the findings of pre-Election Day polls showing Trump far outpacing Haley statewide. Declaring a winner as polls close based on the results of AP's VoteCast survey — and before election officials publicly release tabulated votes—is not unusual in heavily lopsided contests like Saturday's primary.

VoteCast results show Trump winning on a scale similar to his earlier victories in every contest so far where he appeared on the ballot. In South Carolina, he is winning by huge margins in every geographic region of the state, from Upcountry in the north to Low Country on the Atlantic coast. The survey also shows Trump with sizable leads across the state's political geography, winning among Republican primary voters from areas that vote heavily Republican in general elections to those that vote heavily Democratic, as well as everywhere in between. Haley's strongest support according to VoteCast was among voters with postgraduate degrees, but they make up a small share of the overall electorate.

Haley's likeliest path to victory relied on posting strong numbers in more Democratic-friendly areas, while staying competitive in traditionally Republican areas. In Haley's last competitive GOP primary in the state in 2010, some of the areas where she performed best were in counties that tend to support Democrats in general elections. But VoteCast shows Haley not performing anywhere near the level she needs to pull off an upset. When all the votes are counted, Trump may come close to doubling the 33% he received in his 2016 South Carolina victory against a far more competitive six-way field. (More South Carolina primary stories.)

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