Haley or Trump? Voters head to the polls for South Carolina’s GOP primary

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Will it be Nikki Haley or Donald Trump? Registered voters across South Carolina will head to the polls Saturday to vote in the “First in the South” Republican presidential preference primary.

South Carolina has a long history of picking the presidential nominee – especially for the Republican party – and neither Nikki Haley nor Donald Trump has lost an election in the state. But that streak will come to an end on Saturday.

A large field of candidates seeking the Republican nomination has dwindled, leaving only two in the running to take on President Joe Biden in November. Some of those names will still appear on Saturday’s ballot like Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, and Chris Christie.

Despite losses in Iowa and New Hampshire, Haley remained steadfast as she embarked on a large campaign to win her home state. She has spent weeks crisscrossing South Carolina as part of her “Beast of the Southeast” bus tour to speak with supporters and drum up support while her opponent, Donald Trump, has made few appearances — although they drew large crowds in Conway, North Charleston, and Rock Hill.

But will her constant appearances be enough to win over a majority of voters?

If Haley makes it close, the precincts to watch are in metro Charleston and greater Columbia. Those are places Trump did not carry in the 2016 primary, even though he swept South Carolina’s 50 delegates. Columbia and its suburbs are home to a diverse population, including Black voters, university students and college-educated whites — in short, the coalition that helped President Joe Biden defeat Trump in 2020.

The Charleston area stands out for its moderates. When Biden won the 2020 Democratic primary in South Carolina, his support from Black voters got most of the attention. But he drew critical backing from Charleston’s white voters who hail from the ideological middle of the electorate that does not align with Trump.

Polls will open across the state at 7:00 a.m. and will remain open until 7:00 p.m.

South Carolina has open primaries, meaning registered voters can participate in either the Democratic or Republican primary; however, you can only vote in one.

Heading to the polls? Voters are asked to bring a current and valid Photo ID when checking in to vote. Acceptable Photo IDs include:

  • SC Driver’s License
  • SC Department of Motor Vehicles ID card
  • SC Voters Registration Card with Photo
  • Federal Military ID
  • US Passport

Because the primary is taking place on Saturday, rather than the traditional Tuesday, voters should check their precinct before heading to the polls. You can do that by clicking here.

News 2 will provide real-time election results on-air and online after the polls close.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.