South Carolina primary results: Trump wins, defeating Haley in her home state

Trump claimed victory shortly after the polls closed Saturday.

Donald Trump walks on stage to speak during an election night watch party at the State Fairgrounds on February 24, 2024 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Donald Trump walks on stage to speak during an election night watch party at the State Fairgrounds on February 24, 2024 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Former President Donald Trump won the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina on Saturday, handily defeating the state's former governor and his last remaining GOP challenger, Nikki Haley.

The Associated Press quickly called the race for Trump shortly after polls closed in the state on Saturday.

Though Trump’s latest primary victory seems to have further solidified his path to the Republican nomination, Haley — a one time U.N. ambassador and the governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017 — has vowed to campaign on to Super Tuesday, or March 5.

LIVE COVERAGE IS OVER51 updates
  • Haley says she's staying in race: 'I don't believe Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden'

    Shortly after learning that she had lost the Republican presidential primary her home state of South Carolina, Nikki Haley told supporters in Charleston that she was staying in the race.

    "I'm grateful that today is not the end of our story. We're heading to Michigan tomorrow," Haley said.

    Despite earning roughly 40% of the vote to Trump's 60% in South Carolina, Haley declared that "I don't believe Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden," and added, "40% is not some tiny group."

    Haley's argument is that "there are huge numbers in our Republican primaries that want an alternative" to Trump.

  • Next up: Michigan's Republican primary

    Supporters of Donald Trump cheer and wave signs.
    Supporters cheer as former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night party at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in Columbia on Feb. 24. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

    Here's what's next in the Republican race for the presidential nomination:

    Feb. 27: Michigan Republican primary

    March 2: Michigan Republican caucus, Idaho Republican caucus, Missouri Republican caucus

    March 3: District of Columbia Republican primary

    March 4: North Dakota Republican caucus

  • Breaking down the South Carolina primary vote

    Nikki Haley scored higher among male voters, while Donald Trump won more support from women voters. Trump had more success among 18- to 29-year-olds, while Haley did better with voters between the ages of 30 and 64. See how the Republican candidates fared in South Carolina with various demographics.

  • Why the AP called South Carolina for Trump

    The Associated Press reports:

    Former President Donald Trump has easily won the South Carolina primary, dealing former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley a resounding defeat in her home state.

    The Associated Press declared Trump the winner as polls closed statewide at 7 p.m. 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.

    Read more from the AP on how the race was called.

  • In victory speech, Trump says he has 'never seen the Republican Party so unified'

    Moments after being declared the winner in Saturday's Republican presidential primary in South Carolina, former President Donald Trump addressed his supporters in Columbia.

    "This was a little sooner than we anticipated — an even bigger win that we anticipated," Trump said.

    Trump easily defeated Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor, and he made sure to savor his victory.

    "I have never seen the Republican Party so unified as it is right now," Trump said.

  • Donald Trump has won the South Carolina Republican primary

    Donald Trump gestures to supporters after speaking at a Get Out The Vote rally at Winthrop University on February 23, 2024 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
    Donald Trump gestures to supporters after speaking at a Get Out The Vote rally at Winthrop University on February 23, 2024 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

    Donald Trump has won the Republican presidential primary in South Carolina, according to the Associated Press, defeating his rival Nikki Haley in her home state.

    Despite a string of losses, Haley — who was South Carolina’s governor before Trump appointed her ambassador to the United Nations — has vowed to fight on.

    “On Sunday, I'll still be running for president,” Haley said earlier this week. “I'm campaigning every day until the last person votes.

    “In the 10 days after South Carolina, another 21 states and territories will vote,” she continued. “People have a right to have their voices heard. And they deserve a real choice, not a Soviet-style election where there's only one candidate, and he gets 99% of the vote.”

    Read our full story on the South Carolina primary results here.

  • CBS News exit poll: 72% of South Carolina GOP primary voters say Trump has mental fitness to be president again

    Donald Trump kisses the American flag.
    Former President Donald Trump kisses the American flag during CPAC 2024 on Feb. 24. (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

    In a CBS News exit poll of voters in Saturday's Republican presidential primary in South Carolina, 72% said that Donald Trump, who is 77 years old, "has the physical/mental health to be president." Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed said Trump does not.

    Notably, Trump's numbers were better than those for his Republican rival Nikki Haley, who is 52. Just 60% of voters told CBS News Haley possessed the physical and mental health required to be president, while 39% said she did not.

  • Early exit poll: Just 32% of South Carolina GOP primary voters say Biden legitimately won in 2020

    From an early exit poll taken by CNN, Just 32% of South Carolinians who voted in Saturday's Republican presidential primary said that President Biden legitimately won the 2020 election over former President Donald Trump. Sixty-five percent of those polled said they did not think Biden legitimately won.

    CNN asked the same question of voters in New Hampshire's Republican primary and Iowa's GOP caucuses:

  • South Carolina Republicans vote without hearing their candidates debate

    Nikki Haley and Donald Trump. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Sam Wolfe/Bloomberg via Getty Images, Mike Segar/Reuters)
    Nikki Haley and Donald Trump. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Sam Wolfe/Bloomberg via Getty Images, Mike Segar/Reuters)

    Unlike past Republican primary cycles, voters in Saturday's Republican presidential primary did not have the opportunity to see their candidates spar in a debate.

    That's because Donald Trump, the clear frontrunner in the race, opted not to participate in any primary debates. And his sole remaining challenger, Nikki Haley, has frequently attacked him for that decision.

    Voters have been left to wonder what might have been.

    “A lot of people could argue that it’s not going to change anyone’s mind. But maybe it would. I mean, we haven’t seen it yet. We see a town hall with each of them, but not going head-to-head, and I think that’d be pretty important," Jackson Gosnell, a journalism student at the University of South Carolina, told The State.

    Noah Lindler, another USC student and vice president of College Republicans, told the paper that he understood Trump's refusal to share a stage with Haley.

    “There was really no need just based on polling numbers and where he stands, however, from a kind of a moral point of view he should have in order to allow voters to have the chance to hear what he says and how he’s able to argue his positions compared to other other candidates,” he said.

    Read more from The State.

  • 'She's the best person for the job,' Haley supporter says

    Nikki Haley speaks at a rally at the George Hotel in Georgetown, S.C.
    Nikki Haley speaks at a rally at the George Hotel in Georgetown, S.C., on Feb. 22. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

    While Donald Trump is the favorite in Saturday's Republican primary in South Carolina, the state's former governor, Nikki Haley, has her share of supporters.

    “She’s not the best woman for the job. She’s the best person for the job,” Judith Smith, a supporter sporting a homemade "Run Nikki Run" sign said at a Friday rally in Moncks Corner.

    "I couldn’t miss this because I’m so proud of her,” Cindy Tripp, 59, who voted early for Haley, said of her chosen candidate at a Friday rally in Patriots Point.

    Read more from the Guardian.

  • The battle for delegates

    Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) annual meeting in National Harbor, Maryland, on Feb. 24.
    Donald Trump addresses CPAC in Maryland on Saturday. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

    The eventual Republican nominee will need to win 1,215 delegates, a majority.

    Right now Trump has 63 delegates to Haley's 17. Check out the full Yahoo News delegate tracker here.

    South Carolina is awarding 50 delegates, the biggest haul to date. The candidate who gets the most votes statewide will get 29 of those delegates. The other 21 delegates will be awarded three at a time, to the top vote getter in each of the state's seven congressional districts.

    This is a change from the first three states to hold primary contests. Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada all awarded delegates proportionally, so Haley was able to garner delegates in Iowa and New Hampshire by winning a percentage of the vote.

    In South Carolina, if Haley does not win any congressional district votes, much less statewide, she will walk away with zero delegates.

    On March 5 — Super Tuesday — the mother lode of delegates will be awarded by 15 states and and one U.S. territory. All told, 874 delegates are up for grabs that day.

  • RNC member looks to put brakes on Trump's coronation

    Donald Trump speaks on Feb. 23 ahead of South Carolina's GOP primary
    Donald Trump ahead of South Carolina's GOP primary. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

    Republican National Committeeman Henry Barbour of Mississippi is circulating two draft resolutions that would appear to target Donald Trump.

    One draft resolution seeks to keep the RNC neutral on who will be the party's presidential nominee in 2024 until a candidate crosses the required delegate threshold.

    The second looks to keep the RNC from paying a candidate's legal bills.

    The RNC could vote on the two resolutions at its March meeting in Houston, but it is unclear whether either would garner enough support to pass.

    Read more from the Associated Press.

  • Biden campaign seizes on Trump's immigration comments at CPAC

    President Biden’s reelection campaign posted clips of Donald Trump’s remarks about immigration during his speech at CPAC Saturday, pointing to the former president’s words as evidence of hypocrisy with regard to the southern border.

    “It will be the largest deportation in the history of our country, and we have no choice,” Trump said during his 90-minute speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. “And it's not a nice thing to say, and I hate to say it. Those clowns in the media will say, 'Oh, he's so mean. He's ...' No, no. They're killing our people. They're killing our country, they're killing our people — we have no choice.”

  • Haley 'did great things for South Carolina' as governor, voter says

    Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley greets members of the audience after speaking in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
    Nikki Haley greets the audience after speaking in Myrtle Beach. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

    The big question for Nikki Haley is whether her six years as South Carolina's governor will translate into enough support to help her slow Donald Trump's march to the Republican presidential nomination.

    "She was a wonderful governor in our state," Connie Gilliam, a 54-year-old retired teacher, told the AFP. "She did great things for South Carolina. And so we just feel like she would be a great president."

    Most polls, however, show Haley trailing Trump by as much as 30 points in the state.

    Read more from the AFP.

  • Dean Phillips says he’s open to being Haley's VP on ‘unity ticket’

    Dean Phillips speaks to supporters at a campaign event, ahead of the New Hampshire presidential primary election in Rochester, New Hampshire on January 21, 2024. (Faith Ninivaggi/Reuters)
    Dean Phillips speaks to supporters at a campaign event, ahead of the New Hampshire presidential primary election in Rochester, New Hampshire on January 21, 2024. (Faith Ninivaggi/Reuters)

    The Hill reports:

    Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who has mounted a long-shot primary challenge to President Biden, said Thursday he is open to being on a unity ticket with GOP presidential primary candidate Nikki Haley.

    “I think it’s a conversation that Ambassador Haley and I should have, if that’s what this comes down to,” Phillips said in a Thursday interview on Minneapolis’s News Talk 830 WCCO, first highlighted by Mediaite.

  • Donald Trump Jr. eyes Tucker Carlson as his father's running mate

    Tucker Carlson.
    Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

    On Friday, Donald Trump Jr. reiterated his view that former Fox News host Tucker Carlson would make a good his running mate for his father.

    “There would be a couple [of candidates] that I would love to see. If only just for the vice presidential debate. Like I’d love to see a Tucker Carlson go up against Kamala Harris. Just that would be fun,” Trump Jr. told reporters at the former president’s HQ in South Carolina.

    In January, Trump Jr. signaled his support for the idea of a Trump/Carlson ticket.

    “They’re very friendly, they agree on virtually all of these [issues], they agree on stopping the never-ending wars,” the former president's eldest son said on Newsmax. “I would love to see that happen. That would certainly be a contender.”

  • South Carolina voters head to the polls

    Voters showed up to cast their ballots in the South Carolina Republican primary on Saturday — though many in the state had already voted.

    According to the New York Times, South Carolina recorded nearly 270,000 early primary votes cast, both in person and through mail-in absentee ballots, ahead of Election Day.

    Billy, a dog, sits at a voting site.
    Billy, a dog, sits inside Moultrie Playground in Charleston as voters cast their ballots. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)
    Stephanie Scott holds Jack, 2, while voting.
    Stephanie Scott holds Jack, 2, while voting at Kilbourne Park Baptist Church in Columbia. (Sam Wolfe/Reuters)
    People stand in line to cast their votes at the Jennie Moore Elementary School in Mount Pleasant.
    People stand in line to cast their votes at the Jennie Moore Elementary School in Mount Pleasant. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)
    A woman votes at the Richland County Adult Activities Center in Columbia.
    A woman votes at the Richland County Adult Activities Center in Columbia. (Sam Wolfe/Reuters)
  • Tim Scott, the senator in the middle of the Trump/Haley battle

    Sen. Tim Scott.
    Sen. Tim Scott speaks to attendees gathered for a campaign visit from Donald Trump on Feb. 14. (Sam Wolfe/Reuters)

    Sen. Tim Scott owes Nikki Haley a political debt.

    In 2012, Haley was governor of South Carolina when Sen. Jim DeMint left the Senate to run the Heritage Foundation.

    Haley appointed Scott, then a congressman, to the Senate seat. He won a 2014 special election to finish DeMint's term and won reelection in 2016 and 2022.

    But Scott's latest show of devotion to Donald Trump, in possible pursuit of the vice presidency, has driven him to repay Haley by campaigning against her presidential campaign in their mutual home state.

    Scott has campaigned for Trump in South Carolina, including on Friday, and is the star of a Trump campaign TV ad airing in the state.

    Trump took pleasure in bringing up Scott's decision to reject Haley after her support of his career, at a rally in New Hampshire the night he won that state's primary.

    “She actually appointed you, Tim. You must really hate her," Trump said, looking at Scott standing behind him.

    Scott stepped awkwardly to the microphones and said, with a big smile, "I just love you."

    Haley has said she was disappointed that Scott did not call her to inform her personally that he intended to endorse Trump.

    Haley's 22-year-old son, Nalin, has gone much further, calling Scott "Senator Judas" during campaign stops. Haley later said that Nalin "shouldn't say" that.

  • What happens after South Carolina’s primary?

    On Tuesday, Feb. 27, Michigan will hold its primary. Then a week later it’s Super Tuesday, when more than a third of all GOP delegates will be up for grabs as 15 states — Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia — and one territory (American Samoa) hold their primaries or caucuses.

    As of now, Trump is not on the ballot in Colorado or Maine, where election officials declared him ineligible because of his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. Trump appealed the Colorado decision to the Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on the matter.

    For a full list of what’s coming up, check out our 2024 election guide with all of the key dates here.

  • Gavin Newsom calls Haley one of Democrats' best surrogates

    California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said Nikki Haley was one of his party’s best surrogates in the campaign to stop former President Donald Trump from becoming the Republican nominee for the White House in 2024.

    In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Friday, Newsom said: “I think she’s one of our better surrogates, so I hope she stays in. I hope she does well tomorrow — at least, well enough,” referring to Saturday’s GOP primary in South Carolina.

    Read more from The Hill.

  • Haley is not trying to become Trump's VP pick: 'We've pretty much settled that'

    Nikki Haley talks to reporters.
    Nikki Haley talks to reporters on Kiawah Island, S.C., on Feb. 24. (Meg Kinnard/AP)

    In an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier ahead of Saturday's Republican presidential primary in South Carolina, Nikki Haley said she had no interest in becoming Donald Trump's running mate in 2024.

    "We’re gonna see what happens tomorrow," Haley said. "But look, the problem when people say, ‘Why is she doing this? Why is she doing that?’ At first, they were like, ‘She’s doing this because she wants to be vice president.' I think we’ve pretty much settled that. I’ve said it for months — it’s done."

  • Haley blasts Trump's 'disgusting' comments about Black voters

    Donald Trump.
    Donald Trump speaks at the Black Conservative Federation's gala in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 23. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

    Speaking to reporters in South Carolina, Nikki Haley said the comments Donald Trump made about Black people on Friday night — suggesting they like him because of his various criminal indictments — were "disgusting."

    "That's the chaos that comes with Donald Trump," she said. "That's the offensiveness that's going to happen every day between now and the general election, which is why I continue to say Donald Trump cannot win a general election. He won't."

    At a gala, Trump said that "a lot of people said that that’s why the Black people like me, because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against, and they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against."

    He said the Black community "embraced" his mug shot: “It’s incredible. You see Black people walking around with my mug shot; you know, they do shirts.”

  • South Carolina to award 50 delegates on Saturday

    A person at a voting site.
    Mike Schmidt votes on the morning of the South Carolina Republican primary at Cayce United Methodist Church. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

    Saturday's primary in South Carolina will decide the allocation of 50 delegates to the Republican convention. Donald Trump is expected to win the 29 at-large delegates awarded to the winner in the state and could sweep each of the seven congressional districts, which award three delegates each.

    So far, Trump leads Nikki Haley by a margin of 63 delegates to 17. To secure the nomination, a candidate needs to earn 1,215 delegates.

  • At CPAC, Trump says that 'we're living in hell'

    In a Saturday speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., Donald Trump painted a rather grim picture of the country under President Biden.

    "Our country is being destroyed, and the only thing standing between you and its obliteration is me. It's an express train barreling toward servitude and to ruin," Trump told his audience, adding, "In many ways, we're living in hell."

    During his remarks, Trump also described himself as "a proud political dissident" and once again compared himself to mobster Al Capone.

  • Haley says Trump’s comment about her husband ‘cuts deep’ for military families

    A Nikki Haley supporter holds a sign thanking her husband for his service.
    A Nikki Haley supporter at a campaign event in Fort Mill, S.C., holds a sign thanking her husband, Maj. Michael Haley, for his service. (Allison Joyce/AFP via Getty Images)

    Nikki Haley this week addressed comments recently made by Donald Trump speculating on the whereabouts of her husband, Maj. Michael Haley.

    Haley’s husband is currently serving a one-year deployment in Africa with the South Carolina National Guard. But at a campaign event in South Carolina earlier this month, Trump seemed to imply that he had gone overseas for other reasons.

    "What happened to her husband? What happened to her husband?” Trump asked. “Where is he? He's gone. He knew. He knew.” The former president later added, “I think he should come back home to help save her dying campaign.”

    In an interview with ABC News this week, Haley commented on Trump’s remarks, saying, "It's not personal for me and Michael; we can handle that. It's personal when you think of military families. They go through a lot. They don't complain.

    "And so, for someone to mock or make light of that, it cuts deep no matter what because military families, military spouses and their kids, go through so much during this deployment," she went on. "Don't make light of that."

  • Haley casts her vote in South Carolina

    Nikki Haley was all smiles as she cast her vote on Kiawah Island on Saturday, alongside her mother, Raj Kaur Randhawa.

    After voting in her home state's GOP primary, Haley told reporters she didn't have any plans to back out of her race against Donald Trump.

    “We're going to keep going all the way through Super Tuesday. That's as far as I've thought in terms of going forward,” she said. “There is a choice. We can leave the drama and the chaos. We can leave the incompetence, and we can go to something that is normal.”

    Nikki Haley helps her mother Raj Kaur Randhawa to the voting booth on Feb. 24.
    Nikki Haley helps her mother, Raj Kaur Randhawa, to the voting booth on Feb. 24. (Chris Carlson/AP)
    Nikki Haley speaks with reporters.
    Haley, alongside her family, speaks with reporters after casting her vote in the primary on Kiawah Island, S.C., on Feb. 24. (Meg Kinnard/AP)
  • How Haley’s home-state advantage could hurt her in South Carolina

    Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign visit on Feb. 23.
    Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign visit on Feb. 23. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

    Nikki Haley had every advantage in the Palmetto State. She was born in Bamberg, a small town 55 miles south of Columbia, the state’s capital. She graduated from Clemson. She served three terms in the state legislature and two terms in the governor’s mansion, during which her approval rating hit 80%.

    And Haley campaigned hard there in recent weeks, blasting Van Halen’s “Right Now” as her “Beast of the Southeast” bus tour rolled up to stops throughout the state — where she would disembark and criticize Trump (on his attitude toward Russia, on his chaotic temperament, on his expensive legal woes) more aggressively than ever.

    Overall, Haley’s campaign and her two allied super political action committees dropped $8.4 million on advertising in South Carolina, according to Bloomberg. Trump’s team spent next to nothing.

    But there’s a reason past candidates have tended to exit the race after losing their home state. (See: Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016, the night Trump bested him in Florida.)

    Call it the “where if not there?” effect.

    Your home state is “as good as it’s going to get,” Terry Sullivan, a longtime Republican strategist, recently told the Washington Post. “It’s not like they don’t know you well enough. [So] it’s pretty devastating if she loses.”

  • Trump warns of 'largest stock market crash' if he loses to Biden again

    Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Rock Hill, S.C.
    Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Rock Hill, S.C., on Feb. 23. (Chris Carlson/AP)

    At a Friday night rally in Rock Hill, S.C., Donald Trump assured his supporters that if he were to lose to President Biden in the 2024 election, the stock market would suffer an unprecedented crash.

    "If we lose, you're going to have a crash like you wouldn't believe," Trump said. "If we lose — that's an incentive, if you have stock, if we have a tragedy happen on Nov. 5, it would be a tragedy — in the opinion of many and in my opinion, you will have the largest stock market crash we have ever had."

    In January, Trump attempted to take credit for record stock market highs that have occurred during Biden's presidency.

    “THIS IS THE TRUMP STOCK MARKET BECAUSE MY POLLS AGAINST BIDEN ARE SO GOOD THAT INVESTORS ARE PROJECTING THAT I WILL WIN, AND THAT WILL DRIVE THE MARKET UP,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.

  • What do voters actually think of Trump's legal troubles?

    Former President Donald Trump has a dual schedule this year: he’s crisscrossing the country in a primary battle for the Republican nomination for president while mounting his legal defense in four separate criminal cases.

    In a recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll, we asked voters what they think — and how much they know — about the latter.

    Yahoo News' Andrew Romano breaks down the results.

  • Haley to launch '7-figure' ad buy ahead of Super Tuesday

    Nikki Haley.
    Nikki Haley arrives at a campaign stop at the George Hotel in Georgetown, S.C., on Feb. 22. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

    Bloomberg reports:

    Nikki Haley’s presidential campaign is pouring money into its first national cable television advertising buy even as her candidacy faces a nearly impossible path to beating Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.

    Haley campaign manager Betsy Ankney said Friday they are planning to spend seven figures, but declined to give a specific amount. She said the ads will run in the lead-up to Super Tuesday on March 5, when more than a dozen states will vote.

  • Haley releases new ad: 'We won't survive 4 more years of Trump's chaos'

    Nikki Haley's campaign on Friday released a new ad targeting Donald Trump — a 90-second showcase of the various controversies that dogged him over his four years in office.

    The ad quickly highlights his praise of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, a scuttled secret meeting with Taliban leaders at Camp David and Trump's apparent fondness for Russian President Vladimir Putin. It also ticks off a number of his domestic controversies.

    Watch the ad on X below:

  • South Carolina primary politics can get ugly

    George W. Bush.
    George W. Bush speaks to the press in February 2000 about what he called the "stealth" campaign of his opponent Arizona Sen. John McCain. (Reuters)

    The South Carolina Republican presidential primary has had a history in recent decades of gutter politics.

    Because the Palmetto State goes third in the nominating process, it has been a crucial momentum shift moment for numerous candidacies.

    The most famous example came in 2000, when Sen. John McCain won the New Hampshire primary after George W. Bush won the Iowa caucuses.

    McCain came under attack by a whisper campaign from shadowy corners of the state. Voters received phone calls asking them if they'd vote for McCain if they knew "he had fathered an illegitimate Black child." It was a vicious slur against McCain, who had an adopted Bangladeshi daughter, Bridget.

    The dirty tricks were never traced to the Bush campaign, but the McCain family always blamed Bush world for the nasty attacks. Bush won the South Carolina primary, and that victory was a key step in clinching the Republican nomination on his way to winning the presidency that fall.

  • Why are the GOP and Democratic primaries held on different days in South Carolina?

    President Biden.
    President Biden on Feb. 19. (Bonnie Cash/Reuters)

    The reason the Democratic and Republican primaries are on different days is South Carolina allows the parties to choose which day they want to hold their respective contests. As a result, the South Carolina Democratic primary and the South Carolina Republican primary are often held on different days.

    For Democrats, South Carolina was the first formal primary. Iowa and New Hampshire have traditionally gone before South Carolina, but Democrats wanted the Palmetto State to move to the front of the line because of its relatively diverse population.

    This year's Democratic primary in South Carolina was held on Feb. 3. As expected, President Biden won by a large margin.

  • Haley and Trump have never debated each other. Do South Carolina voters care?

    Nikki Haley and Donald Trump have never debated each other, as Trump had refused to participate in any of the GOP presidential primary debates.

    South Carolina newspaper the State spoke to local voters on whether it mattered to them:

    Those who attended the Haley town hall this week said there should have been a debate. But those at the Trump town hall in Greenville on Tuesday were indifferent.

    Leah Veldhoven attended the Fox News town hall Sunday in downtown Columbia where Nikki Haley answered questions, Veldhoven wished she had gotten a chance to see the two debate because it would have pulled Haley into the light more than she has been, she said.

    “Even though she’s all over the news quite a bit, I still feel like there’s lots of people that don’t know what she’s all about, and what she truly wants to do for the country,” Veldhoven said.

    Amery Davis, who also attended the Haley town hall, said Trump needed to debate Haley, and he needed to do it “now.”

    “He could say what he wants to say, he’s not able, he can’t keep up with her. He couldn’t keep up with her when she was an ambassador. She would always try and clean up his mess.”

  • What to look for in tonight's results

    Earlier this week, Nikki Haley announced that she intends to stay in the race no matter how the results shake out tonight.

    "The presidential primaries have just begun. Just three states have voted," Haley told supporters on Tuesday, adding, "in the 10 days after South Carolina, another 21 states and territories will vote. People have a right to have their voices heard."

    Yahoo News' Jon Ward explains why Haley’s decision to get ahead of a potential loss in her home state is less of a moral stand and more in keeping with her reputation as a shrewd politician.

  • If Haley loses, where does her campaign go from here?

    Nikki Haley makes remarks during a campaign stop
    Nikki Haley at a campaign stop on Feb. 21. (Alyssa Pointer/Reuters)

    Haley’s path to the nomination will only get narrower after South Carolina. Other states have open GOP primaries (meaning independents can vote). But registered Republicans, who overwhelmingly favor Trump, still dominate the party’s primary electorate, and the calendar is about to become crowded with contests that award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis, rather than proportionally.

    Citing these dynamics, senior Trump advisers estimated (in a memo shared with the press Tuesday) that even if Haley keeps performing as well as she did in New Hampshire, her strongest state so far, Trump will secure the 1,215 delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination on March 19. If Haley does not perform up to her Granite State levels, they added, Trump will hit the 1,215 mark a week earlier.

    Could Haley continue running at that point? Sure. Last month, her campaign and super-PAC raised a combined $23.6 million — $7.4 million more than Trump’s. As long as anti-Trump donors keep contributing to Haley’s candidacy, she can keep giving voice to their concerns — and holding out, perhaps, for some seismic legal shift to upend the race.

    “People are not looking six months down the road when these court cases have taken place,” Haley said in an interview earlier this week with the Associated Press. “[Trump’s] going to be in a courtroom all of March, April, May and June. How in the world do you win a general election when these cases keep going and the judgments keep coming?”

  • Voting in today's primary? How to check registration, find voting locations.

    A sign for voting is visible outside the New Bridge Academy
    Feb. 24 is a primary election day in South Carolina. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

    South Carolina newspaper the Greenville News has the latest on what to know if you're voting in today's GOP primary:

    Where can I vote?

    Polling locations throughout Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson counties can be found by visiting scVOTES.gov or by contacting a local county elections office. Voting locations can also be found on all sample ballots.

    What do I need to bring to vote?

    • S.C. driver's license

    • S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles ID card (including S.C. concealed weapons permit)

    • S.C. voter registration card with photo

    • U.S. passport

    • Federal military ID (includes all Department of Defense photo IDs and the Department of Veterans Affairs benefits card)

  • Trump says Black voters like him because of his criminal indictments

    Donald Trump speaks at the Black Conservative Federation's annual honors gala at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 23.
    Donald Trump at the Black Conservative Federation's gala. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

    On Friday night, Donald Trump attended the Black Conservative Federation’s gala in Columbia, S.C., where he said that “what’s happening to [him] happens to” Black people.

    “I got indicted for nothing, for something that is nothing,” he said. “They were doing it because it’s election interference, and then I got indicted a second time and a third time and a fourth time. And a lot of people said that that’s why the Black people like me, because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against, and they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against.

    "I think that’s why the Black people are so much on my side now because they see what’s happening to me happens to them.”

    Trump is facing 91 felony counts in four criminal indictments. (The Associated Press has a closer look at those cases here.)

    As for his mug shot, Trump said:

    “The mug shot, we’ve all seen the mug shot, and you know who embraced it more than anybody else? The Black population. It’s incredible. You see Black people walking around with my mug shot; you know, they do shirts.”

    Read more from Politico on Trump’s remarks last night.

  • Haley: Trump won’t win general election and U.S. will soon have female president

    Vice President Kamala Harris speaks.
    Vice President Kamala Harris. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

    In a Thursday interview with CNN, Haley declared that “Donald Trump will not win the general election” in 2024.

    "You can have him win any primary you want, he will not win a general election,” she added.

    Instead, Haley said, the country “will have a female president of the United States; it will either be me or it will be [Vice President Kamala] Harris."

    Read more from Fox News.

  • Nikki Haley is raising lots of cash

    Nikki Haley speaks during a campaign stop
    Nikki Haley at a campaign stop on Feb. 23. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

    Haley’s campaign and super-PAC raised a combined $23.6 million last month, while Trump’s campaign and super-PAC raised $16.2 million. However, Trump has far more money than Haley overall: $50.2 million between his campaign and super-PAC, compared with Haley’s $14.9 million. Yahoo News’ Jon Ward takes a look at what that tells us about the race:

    “Those numbers show a few things. Haley is gaining some momentum as she takes on Trump more aggressively. She’s also spending a lot of money to try to capitalize on that momentum.

    "But she’s also close to running out of money if donors, big and small, decide she’s done. That’s why her only chance to stay in the race is to project determination.

    "So far enough donors are buying into Haley’s message to keep her afloat.”

  • South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn wants young voters to 'be selfish' this election

    U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn before the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary in Columbia.
    S.C. Rep. Jim Clyburn in Columbia on Jan. 26. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

    Rep. Jim Clyburn, one of the most influential Democrats in Congress and a trailblazer in South Carolina politics, says young and Black voters could easily determine the 2024 presidential election — and that they need to take that responsibility seriously.

    He told Yahoo News in an interview this month: “Be selfish, young people, and think about your future.”

    By November, more than 34 million Black Americans will be eligible to vote in the 2024 presidential election, and a good chunk of them will be members of Gen Z.

    Clyburn noted that young Black voters have been pivotal to Democratic victories across the the United States “for a long, long time” and still largely vote Democratic. But a recent Gallup poll revealed that the historic support for the party among Black Americans has fallen by almost 20% in the past three years.

    For Clyburn, however, the struggles faced by young and Black Americans mean they should be leaning more — not less — toward President Biden.

    Read more from our interview with Clyburn here.

  • Who’s on the ballot today?

    Donald Trump participates in a Fox News town hall with Laura Ingraham in South Carolina on Feb. 20
    Donald Trump at a Fox News town hall in South Carolina on Feb. 20. (Sam Wolfe/Reuters)

    Seven names are on today’s primary ballots, but only four of them are actually still in the running for the GOP’s presidential nomination.

    • Texas businessman Ryan Binkley

    • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (suspended campaign)

    • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (suspended campaign)

    • Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley

    • Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy (suspended campaign)

    • Florida businessman David Stuckenberg

    • Former President Donald Trump

  • Snapshots from South Carolina

    Voters across the state are pictured casting their ballots in today's election. They have until 7 p.m. local time to vote.

    A man shares a laugh with a poll worker as he casts his vote at Cayce United Methodist Church
    A voter shares a laugh with a poll worker at Cayce United Methodist Church in Cayce. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
    People vote at the Charleston Main Library in Charleston, S.C.
    People vote at the Charleston Main Library in Charleston. (Julia Nikhinson/AFP)
    Residents vote at their voting precinct at New Bridge Academy in Cayce, S.C.
    Residents vote at New Bridge Academy in Cayce. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
    A poll worker adjusts signs at Dreher High School in Columbia, S.C.
    A poll worker adjusts signs at Dreher High School in Columbia. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
    American flag balloons are pictured outside New Bridge Academy in Cayce, S.C.
    American flag balloons outside New Bridge Academy in Cayce. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
  • Who can vote today?

    Voters arrive to cast their ballots in Columbia, S.C.
    Voters arrive to cast their ballots in Columbia, S.C. (Sam Wolfe/Reuters)

    Any registered voters can vote today. South Carolina’s primaries are open, which means registered voters can vote in the Democratic primary (which happened on Feb. 3) or the Republican primary — but not both.

    Voters who are 17 years old but will be 18 by the Nov. 5 general election can also vote today.

  • What do the polls say?

    Campaign signs for Republican presidential candidates stand along a road in South Carolina.
    Signs for Republican presidential candidates stand along a road in South Carolina. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

    The latest polling averages have Trump leading Haley by roughly 25 points in South Carolina. That means Haley is fighting a real uphill battle today in a state she led for six years as a popular governor.

    When looking at national polls, the picture becomes even bleaker for Haley: The most recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll, for example, found Trump leading Haley among Republican voters across the country by a whopping 65 points.

  • Understanding Haley’s reasons for staying in

    Yahoo News’ Jon Ward takes a look at why Haley has stayed in the race despite a string of losses:

    “Haley’s case for staying in the race is not moralistic. True to her brand, she’s making a pragmatic argument that Trump is a fatally flawed candidate who presents a danger of handing the presidency to Democrats for another term,” Ward writes. Read the whole article here.

    Earlier this week, Haley gave a defiant speech in which she said she would keep “campaigning every day until the last person votes.”

    “I refuse to quit,” Haley said Tuesday. “I feel no need to kiss the ring. I have no fear of Trump’s retribution. I’m not looking for anything from him.”

  • The winner in South Carolina usually