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Trump wins South Carolina Republican primary, beating Nikki Haley in her home state1 min read

Trump wins South Carolina Republican primary, beating Nikki Haley in her home state<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">1</span> min read</span>

The former president had been widely favored to win the Southern state, despite his litany of criminal charges and Haley’s status as a native of South Carolina who won two terms as governor.

The big win will bolster calls from Trump’s allies that Haley, his last remaining challenger, should drop out of the race. But Haley, who appeared to have outperformed expectations based on opinion polls, again defiantly insisted she would fight on at least through Super Tuesday on March 5, when Republicans in 15 states and one U.S. territory will cast ballots.

Trump won with 59.8% support against 39.5% for Haley with 99% of the expected vote tallied, according to Edison Research. Statewide opinion polls before Saturday had given Trump an average lead of 27.6 percentage points, according to the tracking website 538.

“Forty percent is not some tiny group,” Haley said, referring to her approximate share of the vote on Saturday. “There are huge numbers of voters in our Republican primaries who are saying they want an alternative.”

Trump has now dominated all five contests thus far – in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, the U.S. Virgin Islands and now Haley’s home state – leaving her with no evident path to the Republican nomination.

Trump gave his victory speech in Columbia, the state capital just minutes after the polls closed at 7 p.m. EST (0000 GMT), and didn’t mention Haley once, claiming his party’s mantle as he looked ahead to November’s general election.

“I have never seen the Republican Party so unified as it is right now,” he said.