Haley trails Trump in home state of South Carolina ahead of state’s primary election

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley continues to trail former President Donald Trump by a wide margin in her home state of South Carolina ahead of the state’s GOP presidential primary later this month, according to a new survey.

Trump, who won South Carolina’s first in the south 2016 Republican presidential primary and who carried the Palmetto State in both the 2016 and 2020 general elections, holds a commanding 26-point lead over Haley, who served as governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017, according to the findings of a Monmouth University-Washington Post poll released Thursday.

Of the potential Republican primary voters who were surveyed, 58% said they currently support Trump, compared to 32% who said the same for Haley.

Ever since the presidential contest became a two-person race, both Trump and Haley have witnessed an uptick in support. A similar Monmouth University poll released in September showed Trump with 46% support and Haley with 18% support among South Carolina Republicans.


Trump Haley

Fifty-eight percent of Republican primary voters who were surveyed in a Monmouth University-Washington Post poll said they support Trump, compared to 32% who said the same for Haley. (Getty Images)

In all age groups, the survey revealed that Trump leads Haley with a majority of support among both men and women.

Those who were surveyed also believe Trump has a greater chance of defeating President Biden in November. Forty-two percent said they believe Trump could definitely beat Biden in the general election, while 29% said he probably could. Only 21% of South Carolina Republicans said Haley could definitely beat Biden, with another 42% saying she probably could.

Trump’s legal woes are also not a concern among Republicans in the state, with 60% saying they believe the Republican Party should keep Trump on the ticket if he wins the nomination but is convicted of a crime related to the 2020 election. Similarly, 62% said they would still cast a general election ballot for Trump in that situation, while only 17% said they would vote for Biden.

Trump made history last year as the first former or current president to be indicted for a crime, but his four indictments, including charges he tried to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss, have only fueled his support among Republican voters.

Haley, pointing to the former president’s legal troubles and the overall “chaos” that she says surrounds him, has repeatedly said that she would be a stronger general election candidate for the GOP to take on Biden

“Trump’s electability is a concern for some primary voters. It’s just that this group is nowhere near large enough to put Haley in striking distance of the front-runner,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement.


Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd at a campaign event on July 1, 2023, in Pickens, South Carolina. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The poll also showed Trump, who won both the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire Republican primary elections by double digits, with greater support from South Carolina voters on a number of issues, including the economy and foreign policy.

Additionally, Trump holds a slight advantage, 35% to 26%, over Haley when it comes to being trusted to handle abortion policy. Thirty-three percent said they trust both candidates equally on the issue.

The new poll, conducted Jan. 26-30, is the first public opinion survey in the state’s GOP primary in nearly a month. And it’s topline number follows two private polls conducted over the past week that also indicated Trump with a formidable double-digit lead.

Haley has said a couple of times in recent days that she doesn’t need to win her home state’s GOP primary, but just improve on her 43% showing in New Hampshire.

And she remains optimistic.

“We had 1,500 people in Greenville, 1,000 people in Charleston, 800 in Conway. We’re having big crowds. Now we’re working it. I’ve got a 76% approval rating there. They know I was a good governor. Now we’re going to show them I’m going to be a good president,” she said in a “Fox and Friends” interview on Tuesday.

Haley has also enjoyed a surge in small-dollar and big donor fundraising in the week since the New Hampshire primary.

And earlier this week, Fox News confirmed that Betsy Ankey, Haley’s campaign manager, made the case for the former governor’s candidacy to a network of Republican mega-donors known as the American Opportunity Alliance.

Susie Wiles, a top adviser on the Trump campaign, also attended the event in an attempt to woo donors. Trump, who has had a stormy relationship over the years with some in the GOP donor class, has been making a concerted effort this cycle to mend fences and court top-dollar contributors.

Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley hosts a rally in Conway South Carolina, on Jan. 28, 2024, as part of her swing in the Palmetto State leading up to the state’s primary. (Peter Zay/Anadolu via Getty Images)


“I think they’re running a much more sophisticated campaign this year than ever before,” a major GOP bundler, who asked to remain anonymous, told Fox News recently. “And so, as part of that, they’re looking to consolidate Republican support, both politically and financially.”

The South Carolina Republican presidential primary election is slated to take place on Feb. 24, 2024.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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