Home » Trump holds large lead over Haley 4 days from South Carolina GOP presidential primary

Trump holds large lead over Haley 4 days from South Carolina GOP presidential primary

by John Jefferson
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GREENVILLE, S.C. – With the clock ticking toward Saturday’s Republican presidential primary in South Carolina, a new poll indicates that former President Trump maintains a large double-digit lead over Nikki Haley, his last remaining major rival in the race for the GOP nomination.

Trump, the commanding frontrunner for the Republican nomination as he makes his third straight bid for the White House, stands at 63% support among those likely to vote in Saturday’s Republican presidential primary, according to a Suffolk University/USA Today survey released on Tuesday.

Haley, a former two-term Palmetto State governor who later served as ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, stands at 35% in the poll, which was conducted Feb. 15-18. The survey is the latest this month to suggest Haley faces a steep uphill climb in her home state.

Getting past the top lines, the poll also indicates Trump with a massive 72% to 25% lead among Republicans questioned, with Haley holding a narrow 53%-46% advantage among independents.


While South Carolina’s GOP primary is open to all voters as long as they have not already cast a ballot in the Feb. 3 Democratic presidential primary, nearly two-thirds of those sampled by the poll indicated they were Republicans, with only 28% identifying as independents.

Independents helped fuel Haley’s 43% finish in last month’s New Hampshire GOP presidential primary, 11 points behind Trump.


Haley started turning up the volume on Trump last month, when she became the final rival standing against the former president in the GOP nomination race. Additionally, Haley has been sharpening those attacks in recent days.

Pointing to Trump’s controversial comments a week ago that he would not stand in the way of Moscow if Russian leader Vladimir Putin attacked a NATO member country that failed to pay its full share of dues, Haley at rallies Monday in Greenville and Camden once again charged that her rival “gets unhinged when he goes off the teleprompter.”

Haley trails Trump by double digits in latest South Carolina polls

Haley also savaged Trump over the death of high-profile Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, which much of the world assumes was ordered by Putin.

“I don’t know why he keeps getting weak in the knees when it comes to Russia. But l tell you what, Russia’s not getting weak in the knees,” Haley argued.

A day earlier, during a Fox News town hall in South Carolina hosted by John Roberts, Haley spotlighted the former president’s silence on Navalny’s death, saying “Donald Trump needs to answer whether he thinks Putin is responsible for Navalny.”


On “Fox and Friends” on Monday morning, Haley argued that Trump was too distracted by his legal difficulties and multiple trials and cases, saying “Trump’s doing late-night rants about his court cases. He’s going to be in court for the rest of the year. We can’t be distracted.”

Haley also continues to hammer Trump over his recent comments mocking the absence on the campaign trail of her husband Michael – who is on a military deployment overseas. She is using those remarks by the former president to highlight what she argues is his long history of disparaging military members.

However, Suffolk University political research director David Paleologos spotlighted that the new poll indicated “Trump was winning by a wider margin among South Carolina military households than among non-military households, despite his questioning of the presence of Haley’s husband.”

“Within the subset of the Republican Primary electorate, nothing sticks to Trump,” Paleologos said.

Donald Trump at a rally

Trump grabbed a majority of the votes last month in Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary victories, and won by a landslide two weeks ago in the Nevada and U.S. Virgin Island caucuses, as he moved toward locking up the nomination.

While South Carolina is home for Haley, the former president enjoys the backing of the state’s governor, nearly the entire congressional delegation and scores of state lawmakers and local officials.

“She’s getting clobbered,” Trump emphasized last week at a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, as he touted his formidable lead over Haley. “She’s finished.”

Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt told Fox News “Nikki Haley can’t name a single state she can win, and she is five days away from getting crushed in her own backyard, so it’s no surprise that her embarrassing daily temper tantrums over President Trump are getting more and more desperate.”

Trump returns to South Carolina on Tuesday to headline a Fox News town hall in Greenville hosted by Laura Ingraham. The pre-taped one-hour event, which will focus on both domestic issues and overseas conflicts, will air at 7 p.m. ET.

Haley down to Trump by double digits in the latest South Carolina polls

Hours earlier in Greenville, Haley will deliver what her campaign describes as a “state of the race” speech.

While Trump is dominating the Republican nomination race, Haley repeatedly points to general election polls that suggest she would be the stronger GOP standard-bearer to face off in November against President Biden.

She reiterated that argument on the campaign trail Monday.

“Donald Trump can’t win and we have to win. That’s the biggest thing. He lost it for us in 2018. He lost it for us in 2020. He lost it for us in 2022. Look at last week. He lost another court case on immunity. Now he’s going to be named citizen Trump,” she emphasized.

Haley argued that “everything he touches, we lose. How many more times do we  have to lose before we say maybe he’s the problem.”

Haley has enjoyed strong fundraising so far this year, and she is telling supporters that “I’m in this for the long haul.”

She reiterated to Fox News Digital in a recent interview that “our focus is on South Carolina, Michigan, Super Tuesday.”

Michigan holds its primary on Tuesday, Feb. 27, three days after South Carolina, and 15 states hold contests on Super Tuesday on March 5.

Pointing to the weeks ahead, as she pledged to continue her underdog effort, Haley told the large crowd Monday night in Greenville that “I promise you this, I am in this fight. I will take the bruises. I will take the cuts. This is going to be messy and I’ll take the hurt because I believe nothing good comes easy. Sometimes we have to feel pain to appreciate the blessing.”

Fox News’ Deirdre Heavey and Kirill Clark contributed to this report.

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

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