With 23 percent of the votes counted, the Associated Press reports that former President Donald Trump has beaten former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, his lone remaining primary opponent. With 25 percent of the ballots counted, Trump has captured 53.6 percent of the vote, compared to Haley’s 45.5 percent.
Haley handily outperformed the most recent polls, which had her losing by over 20 percent. Her concession speech was upbeat, vowing to fight on and taking a few digs at Trump.
“With Donald Trump, Republicans have lost almost every competitive election,” she said tonight. “You can’t fix Joe Biden’s chaos with Republican chaos.”
Still, she wasn’t running against the polls; she was running against Trump, who pulled off a clear victory in the two-person race.
A majority of the Republican Party appears to be consolidating around Trump. The past couple of days also saw him collect the endorsements of former opponents Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Tim Scott, and Doug Burgum.
Haley’s noticeably didn’t even net the endorsement of Chris Christie, the most anti-Trump of the former GOP primary contestants.
Even some of Haley’s campaign surrogates seem disappointed in her performance. Politico captured some awkward moments where New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Haley backer, had to watch his candidate flub interview questions while he whispered alternative answers to himself.
Haley’s lack of personal charisma was potentially compounded by the fact that her campaign largely skirted policy issues in the New Hampshire primary, while Trump relentlessly attacked her for being soft on immigration, ready to cut Social Security, and allegedly willing to raise taxes.
One issue the candidates did spar on was war and foreign intervention.
Haley’s stump speech in New Hampshire was heavy on calls to stand up to China, Russia, and Iran. Meanwhile, Trump called Haley a “warmonger” and his campaign emails attacked her for being the candidate of “globalists.” (And also for allegedly being soft on China. Trump is not exactly a consistent dove himself.)
Haley is not contesting the February 8 Nevada GOP caucus, where Trump had 73 percent in the polls before DeSantis dropped out. Trump is also averaging 62 percent support in South Carolina, which will hold its primary on February 24.
On the Democratic side, more than 70 percent of the votes at this stage of the counting are unprocessed write-ins, most of them presumably for President Joe Biden, whose name is not on the ballot. Rep. Dean Phillips (D–Minn.) and Marianne Williamson are presently getting 20 percent and 4 percent of the vote, respectively. Democratic candidate Vermin Supreme, known for promising free ponies and wearing a boot on his head, currently has 46 votes.
Because of a dispute between New Hampshire Democrats and the Democratic National Committee about when to hold the state’s primary, none of the state’s votes will actually count for anything in determining the nomination.
The bottom line: Tonight’s results bring us one contest closer to the depressing prospect of a Donald Trump/Joe Biden rematch.