Supporters fly pro-Trump flags in the parking lot of  Columbia’s State Fairgrounds the evening of the GOP presidential primary. (Photo by Charles Cheves/Carolina News and Reporter)


Donald Trump has won the South Carolina primary, beating his sole remaining opponent, former Gov. Nikki Haley, in her home state.

With 87% of votes counted at 10:35 p.m, Trump had 60% of the total, beating Haley in all but three counties. Haley won three of some of the largest and most urban counties, Richland, Charleston and Beaufort, as more than 700,000 cast ballots.

The primary comes a week after Haley spoke in Greenville, South Carolina, promising she would not drop out of the race even though she has not won any primary races. She pledged again Saturday night to stay in the race, saying her near-40% showing indicated significant support.

CNN and the Associated Press called the race at 7:01 p.m. based on exit polling and in anticipation of Trump’s almost certain victory.

Republican Carol Daxton, 68  who voted at Spring Valley High School in Richland County, voted for Haley despite Trump’s continued dominance in polls and earlier primaries.

“Evidently Trump is probably going to win,” she said. “I think Haley is an extremely strong presidential (candidate) with a lot of great platforms, and a very respectful person of integrity.”

Prior to the presidential primary, Trump was polling 57.9 points ahead of Haley in national polls, according to the RCP average.

A Trafalgar Group poll showed that 59% of South Carolina’s primary voters supported Trump, compared with 37.5% for Haley, which was higher than the national average.

Haley voter Elanor Boyd, who casted her ballot at Columbia’s Dreher High School, voted for Trump in 2020 and typically votes for Republicans. But she said she was concerned about his legal status.

“I certainly think that could be an issue for him,” Boyd said.

Trump’s legal troubles are causing him to spend his $19 million raised recently for his campaign quicker than Haley’s $16.5 million, according to Time Magazine.

Trump is facing multiple criminal and civil indictments, which Associated Press has reported could have his legal debts totaling a half-million dollars.

The criminal indictments include fraud involving his New York businesses, which he was found guilty of, and the Jan. 6 federal election interference case and another interference case in Georgia.

His civil cases include the hush money case, in which he was accused of falsifying records of a payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, and a defamation lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll after she accused him of a sexual assault from decades ago. The jury found him responsible for libel and sexual abuse in the Carroll case. Daniels’ case hasn’t yet gone to trial.

Those cases, though, have not prevented supporters from showing up for him in South Carolina.

“I just think it’s a shame that they’re doing all this stuff,” said Trump voter Mary Jane Brawley, 73, who voted at Irmo High School in Lexington County. “I mean, I hate it. I think they’re just trying to bankrupt him so he can’t run and put him in jail.”

In a speech at a Charleston hotel soon after the polls closed, Haley said based on polling, she said she had 40% of the vote in South Carolina, which made South Carolina her best performing primary.

She also said there are many members of the Republican Party that want to see an alternative, which she believes she represents.

“I’m not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” she said, followed by cheers.

Trump got on stage at Columbia’s State Fairgrounds after polls closed and spoke of his “landslide” victory.

“We’re going to look at Joe Biden,” he said. “And we’re going to look him right in the eye. He’s destroying our country. And we are going to say, ‘Joe, you’re fired.’”

Supporters feel good about the outcome of the primary.

Quenton Jordan, 29, who attended Trump’s speech in Columbia, called the event a celebration for Trump bringing in “historic numbers” of voters.

“I think we all knew this was going to be the outcome,” Jordan said. “We’re excited for that to have come true, and we’re looking forward to doing what we can do to help him get across the finish line, become the next president.”


Carolina News and Reporter writers Shamariah Vanderhorst, Eva Flowe and Amanda Petty contributed.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Black Conservative Foundation’s Annual BCF Honors Gala at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia, South Carolina, on Friday. (The Associated Press/Carolina News and Reporter)