Donald Trump on Saturday won South Carolina's Republican presidential nominating contest by a decisive margin, dealing another loss to former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and further solidifying his path to a potential November rematch with his Democratic successor Joe Biden.

Haley, the former president's sole remaining rival in the primary race, was this time defeated in her home state, where she served two terms as governor from 2011 to 2017.

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump (C) speaks during an election night watch party in Columbia, South Carolina, on Feb. 24, 2024. (Getty/Kyodo)

While the first primary in the South was closely watched for signs of whether it would help Haley keep her presidential hopes alive, the 52-year-old reiterated that she will not bow out despite the outcome.

"America will come apart if we make the wrong choices. This has never been about me or my political future," she told her supporters after losing the primary. "We need to beat Joe Biden in November. I don't believe Donald Trump can beat Joe Biden."

Trump, meanwhile, celebrated his victory shortly after polls closed based on media projections, saying, "I have never seen the Republican Party so unified as it is right now."

In a speech delivered in the state capital of Columbia, the 77-year-old former president also said it was "an even bigger win than we anticipated."

But Haley slightly outperformed pre-primary polling numbers, garnering 39.3 percent of the vote as of about 11 p.m., with over 90 percent of the estimated ballots counted, according to The Associated Press.

"I know 40 percent is not 50 percent," she said. "But I also know 40 percent is not some tiny group."

Trump had 60.1 percent of the votes counted, according to AP.

Trump, who lost his reelection bid to Biden in 2020, has swept all five contests held so far for the Republican nomination, earlier winning in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley gives a speech in South Carolina on Feb. 23, 2024. (Getty/Kyodo)

Over the past four decades, all but one Republican candidate who won South Carolina ultimately secured the party's nomination.

The state, with a population of about 5.37 million, is known to have a conservative and religious electorate, a favorable scenario for Trump but forcing Haley to count on Republican-leaning independents to overcome the odds.

Before the latest primary, Trump had 63 delegates compared with Haley's 17, with a total of at least 1,215 required for a Republican candidate to clinch the nomination. Fifty delegates were up for grabs in South Carolina.

Haley has suggested that she intends to remain in the race at least through "Super Tuesday" on March 5, when more than a dozen states, including populous California and Texas, hold their nominating contests.

Insisting the contests have just begun and most people have not yet been given the opportunity to vote, she has asserted that both Trump and the 81-year-old Biden are too old to make important decisions for the country, calling for a generational change in U.S. politics.

Citing some polling results, Haley has also made the case that she is a more promising general-election candidate against Biden than Trump, who faces 91 criminal charges in four separate cases.

Haley has said she believes voters will not back Trump if he is criminally convicted, and such a possibility, coupled with ample contributions from donors wanting to foil the former president's White House bid, is believed to have motivated her to stay in the race as long as she can.

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