CHARLESTON, S.C. ― Donald Trump secured a resounding victory in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary on Saturday, dealing a significant blow to Nikki Haley in her own state and moving one step nearer to clinching the GOP’s 2024 candidacy for the White House.

It was never in question that Trump would win in South Carolina. Despite minimal campaigning and advertising, the former president consistently led the polls for months. Upon entering the race, he quickly garnered support from the state’s key leaders, culminating in a nearly flawless victory after Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) exited the race and endorsed him last month.

Following the announcement by several news outlets that he had won once polling stations closed, Trump wasted no time proclaiming a landslide triumph, surrounded by South Carolina state and national politicians who had backed him at his victory celebration.

“We have triumphed by a large margin,” Trump declared confidently. His substantial lead in RealClearPolitics’ average polling data leading up to Saturday provided a 23.3-point cushion, though it remained uncertain if this would translate into his actual victory margin.

Having secured significant victories in all early primary states, Trump now heads towards Super Tuesday on March 5 with a formidable lead in delegates. His campaign anticipates locking up the nomination as early as March 12, despite grappling with an unprecedented 91 charges related to his attempts to overturn an election he lost and retaining classified information post his White House tenure.

Trump’s initial criminal trial is set to commence on March 25 in New York, where he faces charges of fraudulent business record-keeping concerning payments to Stormy Daniels. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., Trump awaits a Supreme Court ruling on his claims of presidential immunity from all legal prosecution.

“Lawyers are my constant companion,” Trump remarked at a rally in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on Friday. “I campaign by day and attend court hearings by night. It’s the extent of my actions.”

Dismissing the charges against him as “nonsense,” Trump portrayed himself as a martyr persecuted for his presidential aspirations.

“I am being indicted on your behalf,” he asserted at the rally.

Later, during an event with African American conservatives in Columbia, Trump suggested that his indictments were the reason for his popularity among Black voters.

In contrast, Haley endeavored to sway Republican voters in the final campaign days, urging them to opt for a younger voice that prioritized competence and conservative governance over “chaos.” The former South Carolina governor, who previously served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, criticized Trump for his foreign policy decisions and alignment with authoritarian figures like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Donald Trump is aligning with a leader who openly expresses his desire to dismantle America,” Haley declared at a rally in Georgetown, South Carolina, on Thursday.

Her intensified critiques against her former superior resonated with some Republicans who opposed Trump, believing that he was steering the GOP down a problematic path. However, this segment of the party, long marginalized as a dwindling minority, seemed on the brink of extinction.

“They are almost completely irrelevant now,” Trump proudly stated at his Friday rally, mocking his chief GOP detractors such as Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).

Despite losing in her home state, Haley has pledged to stay in the race, though many speculate about the inevitability of her campaign’s demise. She has a lineup of events scheduled across the nation next week, including in Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado, and Utah, disrupting plans for Trump and the GOP to unite under a single banner and change their strategy.

On Friday, Trump proposed that Haley consider joining the Democratic party, criticizing her acceptance of donations from members of the opposing party.

“Republicans are not supporting her, they do not appreciate her, and they disagree with her policies. Essentially, she aligns more with the Democratic standpoint,” the former president remarked. “Perhaps she should consider switching parties.”