Former President Donald Trump appeared poised to win his third consecutive Republican presidential nomination after a clear victory Tuesday over former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in the New Hampshire primary.

The results seemed likely to set up a rematch in November between Trump and President Joe Biden, the Democrat who unseated him in the 2020 election. 

However, Haley did better than expected and was clear afterward that she planned to continue a two-person primary race with Trump.

The Associated Press called the New Hampshire race for Trump at 8 p.m.

At 12:10 a.m. EST, with 89% percent of precincts reporting, Trump had 54.8% of the vote and Haley had 43.7%, according to Decision Desk HQ. He had 162,664 votes to her 129,693.

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Trump’s projected victory in New Hampshire follows last week’s blowout win in the Iowa caucuses, where the 45th president won more than 50% of the vote in a four-candidate race that also included Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Ohio entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, both of whom since have withdrawn and endorsed Trump.

“If you win both [states], they’ve never had a loser. Let me put it that way,” Trump said in a victory speech, referring to what his wins in Iowa and New Hampshire signal about his ultimate nomination. “When you win Iowa and you win New Hampshire, they’ve never had a loss. So we are not going to be the first.”

“We are going to win this. We have no choice. If we don’t win, I think our country is finished,” Trump said later, turning to a general election contest between himself and Biden. “I believe our country is finished. We have an opportunity to do something so amazing.”

“And the good news and the reason we have such support, the best numbers I’ve ever had, the reason I have such support is because they are so bad at what they are doing, and so evil, and they are destroying our country,” the former president said.

Trump not only becomes the first candidate to win three presidential primaries in New Hampshire but the first to win both Iowa and New Hampshire since 1976, when President Gerald Ford, a fellow Republican, did it.

Yet Haley surpassed expectations in New Hampshire, as the most recent polls showed Trump with a lead of 58% to Haley’s 36% in the Real Clear Politics average. About 4,000 Democrats switched party affiliation to Republican or undeclared by an October deadline in order to vote in the GOP primary, NPR reported.

On the Democrat side, Biden won New Hampshire as a write-in candidate, defeating longshot challenger Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., who was on the ballot. 

The next GOP contests are caucuses Feb. 8 in Nevada and the Virgin Islands. The South Carolina primary is next Feb. 24, followed by Michigan on Feb. 27. On March 5, Super Tuesday, contests will be held in 16 states.

Haley, Trump’s first ambassador to the United Nations, will face him in four weeks in her home state of South Carolina. She currently trails her former boss there by over 30 points, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

Nevertheless, Haley spoke first Tuesday night, congratulating Trump but making it clear the fight continues.

“The political class is falling over itself saying it’s over,” Haley said at a rally in Concord. “New Hampshire is the first [primary] in the nation, not the last in the nation. It is far from over. There are dozens of states left to go.”

She went on to reference the ages of Trump, 77, and Biden, 81. 

“The first party to retire its 80-year-old candidate is the party who wins the election,” Haley said. “That should be the Republicans.”

Although Trump gave a conciliatory victory speech last week in Iowa, Tuesday night he ripped Haley as an “impostor” for giving a fiery speech despite losing to him in New Hampshire.

“When I watched her in the fancy dress that probably wasn’t so fancy, I said, ‘What’s she doing? We won.’ She did the same thing last week,” Trump said, referring to Haley’s speech after coming in a distant third in Iowa.

Two of Trump’s former GOP challengers, Ramaswamy and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, spoke at his rally Tuesday night. Referring to the upcoming South Carolina primary, Scott said: “It is time for the Republican Party to coalesce around our nominee, Donald Trump.”

Trump’s win comes one night after a rally in Laconia, New Hampshire, that included brief speeches from three former challengers—Ramaswamy, Scott, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. 

DeSantis, who came in a distant second ahead of Haley in Iowa, dropped out of the race Sunday and endorsed Trump in a video statement. (As of 11:30 p.m., the Florida governor still got 1,742 votes or 0.6% in New Hampshire, behind 2,099 votes or 0.8% for others.)

Haley, who argued that Trump can’t win in November or would be surrounded by “chaos” if elected, had pointed to general election polls that show her lead over Biden to be larger than Trump’s. 

Haley had the backing of New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican. She also was endorsed in the primary by both the conservative editorial board of the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper in Manchester and the left-leaning editorial board of The Boston Globe. 

At one point earlier in the campaign, Haley appeared to be within striking distance of Trump, trailing by only seven points. However, after Trump’s decisive win in Iowa, his lead grew to more than 20 points. 

Most polls closed at 7 p.m. in New Hampshire, although some were open until 8 p.m. Voters already in line by closing time were allowed to vote.

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report, which has been updated with additional details and later results.

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