South Carolina primary 2024: Trump projected to win, Haley vows to stay in the race

What can we take away from Trump's big Palmetto State victory?

Former President Donald Trump has won the South Carolina Republican primary, ABC News projects. It was a swift and embarrassing defeat for former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who rose to political prominence as South Carolina’s governor. Nevertheless, in her concession speech, Haley vowed to continue her campaign into Super Tuesday on March 5.

Throughout the evening, 538 reporters, analysts and contributors broke down the results as they came in with live updates, analysis and commentary. Read our full live blog below.

Final thought: The primary is over, long live the primaries

You’re right, Nathaniel, this isn’t a real primary. If nothing really dramatic happens, Trump is going to easily walk to the nomination. My silver lining: Super Tuesday marks the start of our downballot primary season, with primary races for Senate in California and Texas, and primaries for House races in five states. So perhaps we’ll have something more competitive to talk about soon.

—Mary Radcliffe, 538

Final thought: Haley is a unique candidate

Well, this wasn’t the most eventful primary night I’ve ever live-blogged. But this gave me a chance to reflect on the increasingly unusual nature of Haley’s candidacy. I can see an emerging narrative about her speech, in which she positioned herself directly against the polarization represented by a Biden-Trump matchup. Haley is a former member of the Trump administration, yet she’s positioned herself more and more as a Trump alternative — not a Trump substitute. She’s focused mainly on the electability issue, but she did sound a bit like a center-right third party candidate there. That’s not all that struck me though — Haley has also run an explicitly gendered campaign, talking about her 5-inch heels and “if you want something done, ask a woman.” She is only the second woman to win delegates in Republican primaries or caucuses. (Carly Fiorina was the first.) As we track the (Trump-dominated) horse race, we shouldn’t lose sight of what a unique candidate she is.

—Julia Azari, 538 contributor

Final thought: A woman of her word …

If Haley truly does drag this out through Super Tuesday, I’m curious what she expects to gain from losing in a couple dozen more states. I get that her motivations are bigger than becoming the nominee at this point, but will such a thorough thumping serve such goals? Only time will tell!

Kaleigh Rogers, 538

Final thought: This is not a real primary

Tonight, Trump became the first non-incumbent Republican in the modern primary era to win all three of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Haley has failed to win New Hampshire despite demographics that were practically engineered in a lab to be good for her, and she failed to win South Carolina despite it being her home state. Trump is going to be the nominee; it’s time to start treating the primary as over.

—Nathaniel Rakich, 538

But, Nathaniel…

Was there any point besides principle in Haley staying in up until tonight? The writing has been on the wall for weeks, and getting trounced in her home state is a humiliation she could have spared herself. This obviously just makes the inevitable even more apparent, but if she didn’t drop out after New Hampshire, what’s a couple more weeks on principle? (Assuming she has enough money to continue campaigning through Super Tuesday, that is.)

Kaleigh Rogers, 538