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Trump defeats Nikki Haley in the South Carolina Republican primary: Recap

Trump continued his unbeaten primary streak as he moves closer to securing the GOP presidential nomination.

Highlights from the South Carolina GOP primary:

  • NBC News projects that former President Donald Trump has won the South Carolina Republican presidential primary against former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and will receive all 29 at-large delegates. Polls closed at 7 p.m. ET.
  • There were a total of 50 delegates up for grabs. The statewide winner will take all of the at-large delegates, while the winner of each congressional district will earn three delegates.
  • Trump continued his unbeaten 2024 primary streak thanks to his dominance among core Republican voter groups, NBC News exit poll results show.
  • Despite losing her home state, Haley vowed to stay in the race, turning her attention to next week's Michigan primary, followed by Super Tuesday.

NBC News exit poll: S.C. GOP primary voters prioritize immigration

Immigration ranked as the highest priority for South Carolina Republican primary voters today, according to NBC News exit poll results.

Thirty-seven percent of voters said that immigration was the issue that mattered most to their vote, followed by the economy (33%), foreign policy (13%), and abortion (10%).

Among voters who chose immigration as their most important issue, 82% supported Trump and only 18% backed Haley.

Just under 7 in 10 South Carolina Republican primary voters also said that they trust Trump to handle border security more than Haley.

Sixty-six percent of voters said that most undocumented immigrants in the U.S. should be deported to the countries they came from, while 30% said they should be offered a chance to apply for legal status.

That is a stark contrast to 2016, when 44% of South Carolina Republican primary voters said immigrants should be deported to the country they came from and 53% said they should be offered a chance to apply for legal status.

Trump aides and allies push for a post-South Carolina 'pivot'

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A growing chorus of top advisers to Donald Trump is urging him to fixate less on personal grievances and instead focus on hitting President Joe Biden and unifying the Republican Party.

The attempt to turn to broader themes comes as the campaign looks ahead to Super Tuesday and the general election, according to nine top Trump aides and allies who spoke to NBC News. Trump’s commanding win in South Carolina over Nikki Haley is yet another illustration of an undeniable political reality: Trump will be the GOP nominee.

“There is no question that after Saturday there will be a pivot, because there needs to be,” said a top adviser to the former president. “There is a mindset from our perspective that she [Haley] can do whatever she wants. She can do whatever, we don’t care.”

Read the full story here.

Biden campaign co-chair says he's 'disgusted' by Trump's comments on Black Americans

The Biden campaign is hitting back at Trump's claim that "the Black people" like him because he has been legally "discriminated against."

"Though I may be disgusted, I am not at all surprised that Donald Trump would equate the suffering and injustice of Black people in America to consequences he now faces because of his own actions," said Biden campaign co-chair Cedric Richmond, going on to call Trump's claim "insulting."

"It’s moronic. And it’s just plain racist," Richmond continued in the statement. "He thinks Black voters are so uninformed that we won’t see through his shameless pandering. He has another thing coming."

Haley says today is 'not the end of our story'

Haley said that the U.S. will not get out of a "downward spiral" by "obsessing" over the past.

She added that she was "grateful" that today is "not the end of our story," pointing ahead to the Michigan primary and Super Tuesday.

"We won't rest until America wins," she said.

Haley vows to stay in the race: 'I’m not giving up this fight'

Haley reiterated that she plans to continue her run for president, even after her loss to Trump in her home state.

"I’m a woman of my word," Haley said. "I’m not giving up this fight when a majority of Americans disapprove of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden."

She said that the roughly 40% of the vote she received in the New Hampshire primary and so far in South Carolina "is not some tiny group."

Haley went on to say that voters in states that have not held their primaries yet have the right to a choice.


Haley congratulates Trump on projected South Carolina win

Haley congratulated Trump on his victory in South Carolina, drawing boos from her supporters at her election-night party.

She said she has felt "blessed" throughout her "entire journey," adding that she loves South Carolinians no matter the election results.

Haley said that the country will come apart if people make the wrong choices and that she didn't think Trump could beat Biden in November.

She said that she spoke with her husband, who is serving abroad, this morning.

Haley also called accompanying her mom to the polls "an amazing moment."

Haley's supporters prepare for her to speak

The Charleston ballroom where Haley is expected to speak shortly is about half full of supporters, appearing to be a few hundred.

The supporters have been breaking into chants of “Nikki!” and “President Haley!” — especially when the live feed of CNN shows a county where Haley leads.

The vocal supporters appear to be mostly from Haley’s “Women for Nikki” coalition. 

Gavin Newsom: Haley is 'one of our better surrogates'

Alexandra Marquezis based in Washington, D.C.

In an interview with NBC News' "Meet the Press" on Saturday, California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said that Haley is one of the Democratic Party's "better surrogates" for making the case against Trump.

"I don't know why Democrats would want her out of the race," he said, adding: "She's one of our better surrogates. I mean, she's defining the opposition to Trump credibly, effectively."

"She's making points I'm applauding every single day," he added.

Haley, who served in the Trump administration as ambassador to the U.N., has stepped up her rhetoric against the former president in recent campaign appearances, making the case that Trump's mental acuity is deteriorating and that he's tied to GOP losses in recent years.

The full interview with Newsom will air Sunday on "Meet the Press."

Trump lauds Lara Trump, Michael Whatley, Kellyanne Conway

Alexandra Marquezis based in Washington, D.C.

In his victory speech, Trump called out Michael Whatley, the chair of the North Carolina Republican Party and Trump's pick to replace Ronna McDaniel as the chair of the Republican National Committee.

"He looks to me like he’s going to be going on to the national Republican Party as the boss," Trump said, also praising his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, whom he's recommended to be the next co-chair of the RNC.

Trump also mentioned "putting Kellyanne [Conway] in the group, too," though he did not specify which position he'd like to see Conway assume.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster and Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott join Trump's victory lap

Alexandra Marquezis based in Washington, D.C.

In his victory speech, Trump invited South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and South Carolina Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott to speak.

The three South Carolina Republicans fired up the crowd, with McMaster saying, "I’d like you all to remember this moment that you were here. ... We just hit maximum velocity. We’re going all the way."

Scott asked the cheering crowd, "One survey question ... is South Carolina Trump country?"

And Graham celebrated Trump's victory by calling him "the most qualified man to be president of the United States."

Lindsey Graham gets booed during Trump remarks

Annemarie Bonner

As Trump introduced Sen. Lindsey Graham, the crowd could be heard booing the South Carolina senator.

In August 2021, York County, South Carolina, voted to censure Graham for his voting record, according to NBC affiliate WCNC. A year later, in August 2022, Horry County also censured the senator for a violation of Republican Party principles.

NBC News exit poll: Breaking down Trump's South Carolina win  

Trump dominated Haley in her home state of South Carolina tonight, winning nearly every group of GOP primary voters, according to NBC News exit poll results. 

Trump overwhelmingly won the support of men and women (68% and 62%, respectively), voters under 45 and those over 45 (64% and 65%), voters with and without college degrees (51% and 75%), and self-identified Republicans (73%). 

Trump also continued his primary season streak of garnering majority support across traditional Republican voting blocs: 86% of very conservative voters, 75% of white evangelicals, 68% of veterans and 89% of the almost half of voters who say they are part of the MAGA movement.

Haley’s support today came from independents, where she beat Trump 54% to 43%, and moderates, where she beat Trump 67% to 32%.

Trump praises 'an early evening but a fantastic one'

Alexandra Marquezis based in Washington, D.C.

In a speech following his primary victory in South Carolina, Trump called the win "even bigger than we anticipated."

"I've never seen the Republican Party as unified as it is right now," Trump said, promising that if elected, "our country is going to be respected again, respected like never before."

"So this is a fantastic evening. It's an early evening, but a fantastic one," he said.

NBC News projects that Trump will win the South Carolina Republican presidential primary.

Trump wins South Carolina Republican primary

NBC News

NBC News projects that Trump has won the South Carolina Republican primary, receiving all 29 at-large delegates.

See the latest results here.

Donald Trump wins South Carolina Republican primary

Here are some counties to watch as the polls close

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Alexandra Marquezis based in Washington, D.C.

Mark Murray

With the polls closing soon, here are a few counties the NBC News Political Unit is watching and why.

Horry County: A Republican stronghold, this eastern county includes Myrtle Beach and is where Trump earned his highest vote share in 2016. It also has a sizable veteran population, as well as retirees.

Laurens County: This county in the northern part of the state outside of Greenville is also home to evangelicals and will be key to watch for Trump’s base.

Charleston County: This southern county will be a key place to watch for Haley, as it’s one of two South Carolina counties Sen. Marco Rubio won in 2016. Home to wealthier and higher-education voters, it's a population center for the 1st Congressional District, where Haley is looking to snag delegates.

Richland County: This central county includes Columbia, the state capital, and the University of South Carolina. It’s the other county Rubio carried back in 2016, and another well-educated area that's a population center for the 2nd Congressional District.

Pickens County: This northwestern county, which is also home to Clemson University, was where Haley won her highest vote share in her 2014 re-election. She won 76% of the vote. Trump won this county with 30% of the vote in 2016, but Sen. Ted Cruz came close with 27%.

Greenville County: The state’s most populous county is situated in the northern part of the state on the border with North Carolina, and it is home to many evangelicals. This was one of Trump’s worst counties in 2016, though he did narrowly carry it.

Lexington County: This central county just outside of Columbia will be interesting to watch for Haley since she represented part of it in the statehouse from 2005-10. Trump won it in 2016 with 30% of the vote, followed by Cruz at 24% and Rubio at 21%. This is a higher-income area, with the median household income at $71,000, and 33% of the population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Democrats turn out to 'stop Donald Trump'

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Olympia Sonnier

Alexandra Marquezis based in Washington, D.C.

Garrett Haake, Olympia Sonnier and Alexandra Marquez

Two Democratic voters in Columbia told NBC News today that they voted for Haley in the Republican primary — partially to stop Trump.

“It’s important to me to keep Trump out of office again,” said Kelly Poindexter, adding: “Any Democrat should be out here.”

Another voter, Shelby King, told NBC News, “I usually vote Democratic, but today I voted for Nikki because I think she’s the best candidate. We’ve got to have somebody that’s inclusive and not restrictive.”

Asked whether it’s more important to her as a Democrat to re-elect Biden or prevent Trump for getting back in the White House, Poindexter said, “I think it’s more important right now to stop Donald Trump.”

Asked about the South Carolinians voting for Trump in today’s primary, King said, “I don’t understand it.”

Haley campaign manager: 'We know the odds, but we also know the stakes'

Ali Vitali

NBC News caught up with Betsy Ankney, the Haley campaign manager, at the campaign headquarters about 30 minutes before the polls close. Here's what she said:

On the long odds Haley faces winning her home state: "We know the odds, but we also know the stakes. We understand that this is about saving our country. We understand that Nikki Haley is the only one who can win a general election and finally get us back on track. Donald Trump lost in 2020. He lost in 2022. He lost us the House in 2018."

What happens after Super Tuesday? "We have leadership teams already built out in those states through the end of March. ... There's a lot of fertile ground for us and we are just focused on the fight ahead and taking this one step at a time."

On the difficult delegate math for Haley: "Let's see what happens here tonight. There are a lot of [upcoming] states that are winner-take-all. There's also a lot of proportional states. We will keep fighting for every inch."

NBC News exit poll: 83% of S.C. GOP primary voters say Trump is likely to beat Biden

Eight in 10 voters (83%) in the South Carolina Republican primary today said that if Trump wins the party's nomination, it is likely that he would defeat Biden — including 63% who said it is very likely Trump would defeat the incumbent, according to early NBC News exit poll results.

Only 16% said it is not likely that Trump would beat Biden in the general election if he secures the nomination.

For Haley, 55% said she would be likely to defeat Biden if she was the nominee, while 43% said she would not.

Voters weigh Trump's indictments as they cast ballots

Voters in Simpsonville, South Carolina, weighed in on how Trump's slew of indictments and legal challenges impact their choice at the ballot box.

Keith Allison, who voted for Haley, said that Trump's role in the Jan. 6 riot is a top concern.

"I do believe it’s an insurrection, and I believe he instigated it," Allison said. "He’s responsible for that. That’s probably top on my list. And also the top-secret documents. That’s a concern."

But for Trump voter Stacy Miller, Trump's legal battles may strengthen her support for the quadruply-indicted and twice-impeached former president. Trump has pleaded not guilty in his pending legal matters, and he was acquitted on the two impeachments.

"I think with him getting through everything, it’s probably going to maybe have us support him more," she said.

South Carolina GOP chair: Haley should do some 'soul searching' if she loses today

South Carolina Republican Party Chair Drew McKissick said Haley’s political career would be harmed if she chose to continue her presidential bid in the face of a double-digit loss to former President Trump in the state’s primary today.

“I think at this point, you got to do a lot of soul searching, no doubt about it,” McKissick said.

“You reach a certain point where if you go too far, you begin to do yourself politically more harm than good,” he added.

McKissick suggested Haley had no path to victory and said extending the Republican primary only delays efforts by the party to prepare for the general election.

“If after South Carolina you’re 0 and 4, and you’re looking at every other state on the calendar where Donald Trump has anywhere from a 30- to 50-point lead in all these other states, again, you got to do some soul searching,” McKissick said.

Haley has yet to win a state in the race to become the Republican nominee, and Trump was well ahead of her in the polls heading into today's primary.

NBC News exit poll: S.C. GOP primary electorate grows more conservative

The South Carolina Republican primary electorate has consistently grown more conservative over the past few election cycles.

According to early NBC News exit poll results, 43% of voters today described their political ideology as very conservative. That's up from 38% in 2016, 36% in 2012 and 34% in 2008.

As for the rest of today's electorate, 36% of South Carolina GOP primary voters identified as somewhat conservative, 17% as moderate and 3% as liberal.

A complicating factor for Haley

As Haley looks to climb on this primary day, she is also looking at this complicating factor in her path to an upset nomination victory: Republican voters are already voting in 24 other states that have primaries through March 19. 

Mail ballots have gone out in these states, and several have also already opened early-voting locations for GOP voters to come in person. For Haley, every passing day narrows her window to drastically change the winds of this race as those voters cast their votes in those places where polling has shown Trump dominating.

Eight other states or territories are holding caucuses between now and March 19. Those places will require in-person participation.

Haley has yet to win a state in the race for the Republican nomination, and Trump holds a wide lead over her in polling in South Carolina.

NBC News exit poll: Little concern among S.C. GOP primary voters about Trump's health

Early NBC News exit poll results suggest South Carolina Republican primary voters do not harbor major concerns about Trump's health.

A plurality (37%) said only Trump, 77, has the physical and mental health needed to serve effectively as president. About a quarter (26%) said only Haley, 52, does. And another 35% said both candidates have the health to serve.

Looking at the candidates separately, 72% said Trump has the physical and mental health necessary to serve effectively, while 27% said he does not. For Haley, 60% said she has the health to serve, compared to 39% who said she does not.

NBC News exit poll: Most S.C. GOP primary voters did not make a last-minute decision

Roughly 9 in 10 South Carolina Republican primary voters (92%) said they decided who they would vote for today earlier than last week, according to early NBC News exit poll results. 

Just 7% said they made up their minds over the last week.

Further breaking down the early deciders, 7% said they made their choice in early February, 7% said January and 78% said before this year.

NBC News exit poll: Trump and Haley voters diverge over legitimacy of Biden's 2020 win

There is a major split on views of whether Biden legitimately won the presidency in 2020 among Trump and Haley voters in today's South Carolina primary.

According to early NBC News exit poll results, 87% of Trump voters expressed the unfounded view that Biden did not win the White House legitimately, while just 10% said the president won legitimately.

Among Haley voters, 75% said Biden won legitimately, compared to 20% who said he did not.

Overall, a clear majority (65%) of South Carolina Republican primary voters said they do not think Biden legitimately won.

Three-quarters of self-identified Republican voters today said they do not think Biden legitimately won. Among self-identified independents, 48% said they do not think Biden won legitimately and 47% think he did.

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, which Biden won over Trump.

NBC News exit poll: Majority of S.C. GOP primary voters say Trump would be fit to be president if convicted

More than 6 in 10 (65%) South Carolina Republican primary voters said they would consider Trump fit to be president if he were convicted of a crime, according to early NBC News exit poll results.

The results were in line with Iowa, the state that kicked off the GOP nominating contest, where 65% of Republican caucusgoers said Trump would be fit to serve if convicted. Among New Hampshire GOP primary voters, that figure was smaller (54%).

Among self-identified Republicans who voted in the South Carolina GOP primary, 75% said they would consider Trump fit to be president if he were convicted of a crime. Independents were more split, with 48% saying he would be fit and 50% saying he would not be fit.

Trump is currently facing a total of 91 charges across four criminal cases involving his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, his handling of classified documents after leaving office, and alleged hush money payments to a porn star.

NBC News exit poll: 7 in 10 S.C. GOP primary voters identify as Republican

Self-identified Republicans accounted for 69% of the South Carolina GOP primary electorate, early results from the NBC News exit poll show.

A quarter of today's voters identified as either independents (21%) or Democrats (4%). Another 6% said they identified as something else.

The share of non-Republicans was similar to the last contested primary in the state in 2016, when 22% of voters identified as independents and 2% identified as Democrats.

Party affiliation is not required in South Carolina and primaries are open to all registered voters. But those who voted in the Feb. 3 Democratic presidential primary in the state were not eligible to participate in today's contest.

NBC News exit poll: Majority of S.C. GOP primary voters favor a federal abortion ban

A majority of South Carolina Republican primary voters said they support a federal law banning abortion, according to early NBC News exit poll results.

Fifty-four percent said they favor a national ban, while 41% said they would oppose it.

The data follows an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that embryos created through in vitro fertilization are considered children, putting the issue of abortion back into the national spotlight.

Still, abortion ranked last in importance out of four issues for South Carolina GOP primary voters today. When asked which issue mattered the most to their vote, 41% said immigration, 31% said the economy, 11% said foreign policy and 10% said abortion.

Trump received a warm welcome at the Conservative Political Action Conference as he delivered remarks and addressed the multiple legal cases he is facing.

Haley tells reporters she hasn't thought beyond Super Tuesday

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Ali Vitali

Alex Rhoades

Ali Vitali, Greg Hyatt and Alex Rhoades
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley after voting in the South Carolina Republican primary on Saturday in Kiawah Island, S.C.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Asked by reporters today about her comments from earlier this week that she planned to fight “until every vote has been counted,” Haley admitted she was referring specifically to campaigning in South Carolina and that she hasn’t thought about any plans beyond Super Tuesday at this point. 

“We’re going to be voting. We’re going to be campaigning all day today. And then we’re going to keep going all the way through Super Tuesday. That’s as far as I’ve thought,” she said.

“In terms of going forward, we’ve placed ad buys. We’ve gone and put out the public schedule of where we’re going to be, and so we’re going to keep on going,” she added.

Haley has yet to win a state in the race for the Republican nomination, and Trump has a wide lead over her in polling heading into the South Carolina primary.

Trump's RNC pick Michael Whatley flew with him to CPAC from South Carolina

North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley flew with Trump aboard his plane on Saturday from South Carolina to Washington, D.C., ahead of the former president’s CPAC remarks.

Trump gave Whatley, whom he's backing to take the reins as party chair, a shoutout during his CPAC remarks — as he did during a campaign rally in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on Friday. Whatley, at the rally, stood and waved to the crowd.

"I think he'll be probably going to a national position very shortly," Trump continued, referring to him as "fantastic."

Trump has previously indicated that it was time for RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel to step aside, but he has also said he would make recommendations about changes at the RNC after the South Carolina primary.

Trump declares himself a 'political dissident' in CPAC speech

Donald Trump speaks during the CPAC meeting on Feb. 24, 2024, in National Harbor, MD.
Donald Trump at the CPAC meeting on Saturday in National Harbor, Md.Mandel Ngan / AFP - Getty Images

As South Carolina voters headed to the polls, Trump described himself as a "political dissident" in a nearly 90-minute speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in the Washington suburbs Saturday.

“I stand before you today not only as your past and hopefully future president, but as a proud political dissident,” Trump said to an audience at National Harbor in Maryland, echoing an earlier self-comparison to the late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Trump faces criminal charges in four separate cases, including federal trials involving his retention of classified information and his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Navalny was poisoned and summarily tried before he died in an Arctic prison.

Trump broke little new ground in his remarks to the nation's premier annual gathering of conservatives, repeating promises to secure the U.S. border with Mexico and drill for more oil if he wins this year's election.

He also nodded briefly to his Saturday primary contest against Haley. He jokingly told CPAC attendees that he would blame them if he lost the primary — which he is expected to win handily — for drawing him away from South Carolina.

Haley’s popularity has plummeted among GOP primary voters

Mark Murray

Haley told Fox News this week that she sees herself as Republican voters’ alternative to Trump — if the former president’s legal challenges and GOP voters turn against him.

Her one problem: Republican primary voters no longer see her that way.

According to January’s national NBC News poll, 34% of Republican primary voters view Haley in a positive light, versus 36% who have a negative opinion of her (a -2 net rating).

That’s down from the NBC News poll’s findings in November, when Haley’s popularity among GOP primary voters stood at 43% positive, 17% negative (a +26 net rating).

In maybe the most troubling sign for Haley, the erosion in voters who hold favorable opinions of her has come from key parts of the GOP base, including very conservative GOP voters (from a +22 net rating in November to -19 in January), noncollege Republicans (from +19 in November to -11 in January) and men (from +25 to -3).

In short, she’s gone from having more fans to having more detractors in each of those subgroups.

Read the full story here.

Beto O'Rourke urges Michigan voters to vote against Biden in Democratic primary

Alexandra Marquezis based in Washington, D.C.

Ahead of Tuesday's Michigan Democratic primary, former presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke is urging voters to vote "uncommitted" in the primary, rather than for Biden.

"I do think it makes sense for those who want to see this administration do more, or do a better job, to exert that political pressure and get the president’s attention and the attention of those on his campaign so that the United States does better," O'Rourke told the Michigan Advance on Friday, referring to the Biden administration's refusal to call for a cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas.

"We should have a cease-fire. There should be a return of each [and] every single one of those hostages [taken by Hamas]. There should be an end to this war and there should be a negotiated solution to Palestinian statehood," O’Rourke said, adding: "All of that needs to happen, and I share the concern that the United States is not doing close to enough to bring those things to pass."

Last week, Rep. Rashida Tlaib also urged Michigan Democrats to vote uncommitted, saying, "We want to stand up for every single life killed in Gaza."

Trump supporters bank on his experience in the White House

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Olympia Sonnier

Alexandra Marquezis based in Washington, D.C.

Garrett Haake, Olympia Sonnier and Alexandra Marquez

Two Trump voters in Columbia today told NBC News they’re voting for the former president because he already has experience in the White House.

“I just know that [Trump’s] had the experience as president before and I liked his job when he was,” Frances, who asked not to share her last name, told NBC News.

Another voter, William Hunt, said, “He did a good job the first time around and I think he’s the best person.”

Asked why he didn’t vote for Haley, Hunt said, “I think she’s a little light … not quite as strong as he is.”

South Carolina couple splits their votes in GOP primary

Mt. Pleasant Republican couple Karen and Matt Yeates cast their ballots this afternoon in the South Carolina GOP primary — for different candidates.

Karen voted for Haley and Matt voted for Trump. In many ways, the couple — who have been married for 32 years — personify the split in the today’s GOP.

Karen, who described who her husband voted for as “like a 12-year-old boy, basically,” said she wanted to vote for someone with “emotional intelligence” and mentioned “choices and rights,” which she said included abortion rights, among her top issues.

Matt said the border and the economy were his top issues, and that while he respects Haley, “this is a time where we need someone that’s already done great things for the country and will continue to do great things.”

When asked how politics play into their relationship, Karen said, “Our kids have asked us not to talk about it because it’s gotten heated in the past.”

South Carolina sees high early-voting turnout in the first year it's offered

Diana Paulsen

People vote during the South Carolina Republican presidential primary.
People vote during the South Carolina Republican presidential primary in Columbia, SC.Sean Rayford / Getty Images

This year marks the first presidential primary in which an early-voting period has been offered in South Carolina — and voters are seizing on the opportunity to cast their votes ahead of primary day.

Roughly 205,000 voters have already voted in this year’s primary, according the South Carolina Election Commission. That's up from about 60,000 absentee votes in the 2016 Republican presidential primary.

A 2022 law established a two-week early-voting period.

Haley and allies have outspent Trump on S.C. ads nearly 10 to 1

Mark Murray

If Haley falls short to Trump in South Carolina’s Republican primary, as the public polling suggests, it won’t be because of a lack of spending on TV ads.

In fact, Haley and the main super PAC supporting her, SFA Fund Inc., have outspent Trump and his allies over the airwaves by nearly a 10-to-1 margin in the Palmetto State, according to ad-spending data from AdImpact.

Haley’s campaign has spent $5.6 million for ads in the state (like this one knocking Trump over his “chaos”), while SFA Fund has spent an additional $5.4 million (with messages like this one calling to “turn the page”).

By comparison, Trump’s campaign has spent $1.2 million over the airwaves in South Carolina (on ads like this one attacking Haley for wanting to reform Social Security and Medicare).

This nearly 10-to-1 ad spending advantage for team Haley doesn’t even include the millions that groups like Americans for Prosperity, which have backed Haley, also have spent on ads in the Palmetto State.

Haley’s dominance over the advertising airwaves continues a trend we saw in Iowa and New Hampshire, where SFA Fund was the single largest advertiser.

McMaster doesn't think Democrats will 'cause mischief' in GOP primary

COLUMBIA, South Carolina — After casting his ballot this morning, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said he doesn't suspect Democrats will "cause mischief" in the GOP primary today.

Efforts to affect the results of South Carolina’s primary, which is open, meaning that Democrats can cast votes, have never "really materialized," McMaster said.

McMaster, who has endorsed Trump, declined to say whether Haley should drop out of the race.

He said it's up to each individual candidate to make that decision and that he doesn’t really have any message to share with her.

When asked whether Haley has a political future after this, McMaster said, “You cannot predict politics. You never know.”

Haley cast her vote in the South Carolina GOP primary as polls show Trump with a heavily favored lead.

Whitmer: Alabama embryo ruling is 'natural extension' of Dobbs

LANSING, Michigan — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told reporters today that the Alabama Supreme Court ruling impacting IVF “is a natural extension of what we were worried about with the fall of Roe v. Wade.”

She added that one of the things she's heard from around her state is “the fear that we would see this new Supreme Court render a decision that would start impacting everything from IVF to, you know, all of the panoply of health care decisions that women and our families have to make over the course of a lifetime.”

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, allowing at least a dozen states to implement abortion restrictions. Abortion remains legal in Michigan.

Donald Trump Jr. touts South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott as potential VP pick

Donald Trump Jr. speaks to media at a rally for his father, Donald Trump, on Feb. 23, 2024 in Charleston, SC.
Donald Trump Jr. at a rally for his father, Donald Trump, on Friday in Charleston, S.C.Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. is applauding speculation that South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott could be his father’s running mate.

Asked whether there was "anyone [he'd] like to see" get tapped, Trump Jr. mentioned Scott, who notably endorsed Trump last month over Haley despite Haley appointing Scott to his Senate seat.

"Tim’s a good friend of mine. Tim’s a great guy, you know. So these are all — I think my father mentioned some of those as potentials, and there’s probably a couple that he didn’t mention that are potentials, and we’ll see," Trump Jr. said yesterday at Trump's South Carolina headquarters in North Charleston.

Trump Jr. added that it was "not my call to make."

Haley says her goal in South Carolina is to 'get it competitive'

Haley answered questions yesterday about her expectations, motivations and next steps heading into her home state's primary.

On her expectations, she told Fox News, “The goal, I have always said, is to get it competitive.”

She also swatted down the possibility of joining a unity ticket with Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips.

“I’m a Republican. I’m running as a Republican,” she said. “I’m running trying to wake people up that if they nominate Donald Trump in this primary, we will lose a general election. Mark my words.”

Nevada abortion-rights group kicks off 2024 ballot effort

A coalition of reproductive rights groups in Nevada is formally launching an effort Saturday to place an amendment on the November ballot that would enshrine abortion rights in the battleground state’s constitution.

But its kickoff event won’t be exclusively geared toward abortion rights.

Rather, organizers at Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom, the group leading the ballot effort, will also look to drive enthusiasm by drawing attention to the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling that found embryos created through in vitro fertilization are considered children.

Read the full story here.

What to watch for in South Carolina

Twenty years ago, Nikki Haley ran an upstart campaign to topple a heavily favored longtime incumbent who was a force in party politics, launching her political career and setting the stage for her gubernatorial run six years later.

But this time, voters in the district and county she represented as a state legislator don’t think she’s on the verge of pulling off another upset when she goes up against Donald Trump on Saturday.

Dave Mauldin, an unaffiliated voter from Lexington who is voting for Haley “just to try and screw [Trump] over,” said he expects “the Trump wave is going to be like a tsunami.”

Read the full story here.