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Trump wins South Carolina primary, eyeing rematch with Biden

Trump's victory does not come as a surprise as polls showed Trump far ahead of Haley ahead of primary day.
Trump faces Haley in South Carolina Republican primary
Posted at 3:32 PM, Feb 24, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-24 21:38:01-05

Former President Donald Trump won Saturday's South Carolina Republican presidential primary, defeating Nikki Haley, who served in the Trump administration as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She also served as the state's governor.

South Carolina has an open primary, meaning anyone, including non-Republicans, can vote in the primary.

There were 50 delegates up for grabs. As the statewide winner, Trump automatically picks up 29. The winner of each of the state's seven congressional districts will pick up three delegates per win, making up the remaining 21 delegates.

Based on results, Decision Desk HQ projects that Trump will win at least 44 of the state's delegates. 

"This was a little sooner than we anticipated. An even bigger win than we anticipated," Trump told supporters.

South Carolina was the fourth state to hold a nominating event, following votes in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada;  Trump won an overwhelming majority of delegates in those states, but those nominating events represent just a tiny fraction of the overall number of delegates left to be determined. 

A humongous delegate haul will come on March 5, when nearly one-third of all total delegates will be up for grabs. 

The Haley campaign had hoped to attract non-Republicans, including Democrats, given that South Carolina is an open primary. But exiting polling by Decision Desk HQ shows that more independent and Democratic voters supported Trump than Haley. 

Trump was eager to declare victory on Saturday, speaking to supporters in Columbia just minutes after polls closed. In his nearly 30-minute speech, he did not mention Haley's name. Instead, he focused his attacks on President Joe Biden and his immigration and economic policies.

"This audience is full of energy and our party is full of energy like never before," Trump told supporters. "I mean it, there has never been unity in our party." 

Trump spent much of his speech thanking the numerous Republican lawmakers in attendance, one of whom vying to be his running mate. Among the candidates is Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican who left his own presidential ambitions behind to support Trump. 

"I really do mean that so many people have such great respect for him and you're very lucky to have him in the state," Trump said about Scott.

Despite calls to exit the race, Haley vowed to continue. 

"I don't believe Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden," she said.  "I said this week, 'No matter what happens in South Carolina, I would continue to run for president.' I'm a woman of my word"

SEE MORE: Trump exchanges a close hug with Argentine President Javier Milei

Although Haley remains in the race, Trump has clearly set his eyes on a potential rematch with Biden. As Trump is the overwhelming favorite to win the GOP nomination, polls show he is in a dead heat with Biden in a hypothetical general election matchup. 

A Quinnipiac University poll released last week had Biden ahead of Trump 49-45 in a potential rematch of the 2020 election. 


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