1709517812 Nikki Haley scores her first win against Trump in Washington

Nikki Haley scores her first win against Trump in Washington testimonial primaries | Elections in the USA

The United States capital has always been hostile territory for Donald Trump. Joe Biden won the 2020 election with 92% of the vote against the then-President. In general, the District of Columbia is distinctly blue, the Democratic color. The Republican Party held its presidential primary this Sunday in a single voting center, a room in the Madison Hotel in downtown Washington. In a low voter turnout, Nikki Haley won her first – and who knows if last – victory against Trump, a somewhat symbolic victory, but one that gives her some oxygen. Haley received 63% of the vote, but that's only 1,274 votes. Trump only received 676 votes in the capital, or 33%.

In a city of nearly 700,000 people, there are only 23,000 registered Republican voters. Although absentee voting is not permitted, attendance at the Madison Hotel was minimal this Sunday. Only a few dozen voters threw their ballots into the ballot box in the afternoon. At the door, a woman handed out fliers in support of David Stuckenberg, a businessman and former military pilot who almost no one knows is in the presidential race and who received eight votes. Another, dressed in some kind of red tracksuit and a Trump hat, sat in a folding chair and looked at her cell phone. At a table, already inside, two volunteers from Nikki Haley's campaign were handing out stickers for the winner (or at least they had stickers to hand out, but demand was low).

The District of Columbia primary will only nominate 19 delegates to the Republican convention. This Saturday, Trump won 122 (all elected) in the Idaho, Missouri and Michigan primaries, and on Tuesday (Super Tuesday) 874 delegates are at stake. The Republicans are 15 states. For this reason, the attention paid to primaries in the capital is usually rather limited. There aren't even any polls.

Nevertheless, the District of Columbia is the constituency that awards the most delegates relative to Republican members (or voters) because the distribution takes population into account. In South Carolina, Haley won just three delegates with 300,000 votes. In Washington, he gets 19 by fewer than 1,300 votes. The Republican primary in the capital is closed, so only the 23,000 members can vote. In addition, participation is usually very low. This time there were just over 2,000 votes. In 2020 there were 1,559 votes; In 2016, only 2,839 votes were cast; in 2020 about 5,300 and in 2008 about 6,200. Obviously they are not intended to set trends.

Voting in the capital began this Friday and that day Nikki Haley held a rally in another room of the same hotel. This Sunday, however, the candidates didn't even bother to be in town to wait for the results. Nikki Haley decided to campaign in states that vote on Tuesday, while Trump took a break from Saturday's rallies, where he made numerous gaffes, incoherent wording and errors, including repeating that the President Barack Obama is.

Washington DC 2024 Republican Primary Voting Center at the Madison Hotel on March 3, 2024.Voting center for the 2024 Republican primaries in Washington DC, at the Madison Hotel. Miguel Jimenez Cabeza

Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without restrictions.

Subscribe to

Republican rules stipulate that the 19 delegates will be allocated to the candidate who receives more than 50% of the vote in the primary. If no candidate receives more than half of the votes, these are divided proportionally among those who exceed the 15 percent threshold. But since in practice there are only two candidates, the possibility of a proportional distribution could just be the result of chance. There were a handful of votes for candidates who had withdrawn but were still on the ballot, such as Ron DeSantis, Chris Christie and Vivek Ramaswamy.

Trump won the Washington primary unopposed in his re-election bid in 2020. Instead, he came third four years earlier, behind Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich. He only received 13.8% of the vote and remained without delegates on this occasion. Rubio's victory was one of three victories he won in his failed bid in 2016. Previously, Mitt Romney and John McCain won the city's 2012 and 2008 primaries on their way to the Republican Party nomination.

The former president practically acts as if he is not loved in the capital. It's a city he denigrates at every opportunity – a sport that many other American politicians also play.

The race for the Republican nomination makes another relatively inconsequential stop this Monday in the North Dakota primary, where 29 delegates are up for grabs and Trump is expected to prevail. And then comes Super Tuesday, when, according to all polls, Trump will confirm that the distance he maintains with Haley is unbridgeable, despite Washington's test victory.

Follow all the information about the United States elections in our weekly newsletter.