Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Vermont Public wants your concerns to inform our election coverage. Tell us: What do you want the candidates to be discussing as they compete for your votes?

Vermont becomes Nikki Haley's first state Republican presidential primary victory

A woman holds a microphone and speaks in front of a darkened background
Tony Gutierrez
Associated Press
Republican presidential candidate and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at a campaign event in Forth Worth, Texas, Monday, March 4, 2024.


Vermont on Tuesday became the first state in the country to deliver a Republican presidential primary victory to former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

With 90% of the vote tallied Tuesday night, Haley held a 50% to 45.7% lead over Trump. President Joe Biden, meanwhile, locked up the race on the Democratic side with 89.4% of the vote.

Though Vermont’s 17 primary delegates will do little to help Haley eat into Trump’s commanding lead in the race for the Republican nomination, her showing here represents a symbolic victory for Vermonters such as Tom Anastasio.

Anastasio is a Hyde Park resident who customarily votes in Democratic primaries. The self-described independent said he was eager to pull a Republican ballot Tuesday so that he could cast a vote for Haley.

“I think that was a very important thing to do, to save the conservative part of the nation from the horror that the Republican Party has become,” he said.

Anastasio doesn’t necessarily want to see the former ambassador to the United Nations ascend to the presidency. He does want her to defeat the main candidate she faces in the Republican primary.

“And I hope that by not voting for Trump on the Republican ballot, that we can help bring the Republican Party back to its senses,” he said.

People stand near white voting booths with red edges and an image of the American flag with the word vote
Mike Dougherty
Vermont Public
Voting is underway in Montpelier for the presidential primary as well as town meeting items on March 5, 2024. Local decisions include a mayoral election and a “just cause” eviction measure.

While Trump has enjoyed wide margins of victory in most of the primary elections to date, Haley managed to narrow the gap in Vermont due to turnout from independents such as Pam Stanyon, of Morrisville.

“I just think it’s time for a change,” Stanyon said outside her polling site Tuesday morning. “It’s time for younger leadership.”

See the latest results from Vermont's Town Meeting Day voting

Stanyon, a self-described “centrist,” said she thinks Biden has been a “good leader” over the past four years. But she said the United States needs a bridge builder who can galvanize a divided nation.

“I want to talk about what it takes to maintain a democracy, and a respectful community,” she said. “And leadership matters. Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

Trump maintains support

Though Haley eked out a narrow victory Tuesday, her main opponent in the Republican primary showed his enduring appeal with Vermont’s conservative base.

Hyde Park resident Linda Graves emerged from her local polling station Tuesday morning with a free pair of solar eclipse sunglasses in hand. The town warning included a $3.3 million municipal budget proposal, two select board races, and a proposal to create a $100,000 reserve fund for road construction projects.

It was the opportunity to cast a vote in the Republican presidential primary, however, that drew Graves to the ballot box.

“I think Trump did a really good job last time, so I’m really hoping that he will be reelected,” she said.

Graves said her interest in the presidential election stems from her deep concerns about the direction the country is heading in.

“I think it’s horrible right now,” she said. “I feel like our country has been invaded by people we don’t know coming in, just pouring in, and a lot more crime. I think we need to do something about our borders.”

The candidate best equipped to solve that problem, she said, is Trump, notwithstanding the litany of civil and criminal charges the former president now faces.

“They just want to get him,” Graves said. “So I think he’ll make it through that fine.”

Not every Vermonter who voted for Trump Tuesday did so with such enthusiasm.

Stowe resident Dan Carroll said economic issues are driving his calculus in the 2024 elections. The cost of living in Vermont, he said, has become more than his family can bear.

“To be flat out blunt, we retired, my wife and I, a little over a year ago, and we’re looking to leave the state,” Carroll said. “As senior citizens, the tax burden here is nuts.”

Carroll said he voted for Joe Biden in 2020. He’s no longer convinced the 81-year-old Democrat has the capacity to serve as president. And he’s increasingly concerned about fiscal policy under the Biden administration.

“They’re spending, spending, spending. It’s great to help people out, but that’s to get them on their feet, not to continue helping and helping and helping,” he said. “It’s too easy for people not to work.”

Trump is, in Carroll’s view, is the likeliest candidate to deliver economic prosperity for him and other working-class Americans. And while he voted for Trump on Tuesday, he said he did so with severe reservations about the former president’s alleged criminal conduct.

“It’s the best of the two evils, per se,” Carroll said. “I’m sure a lot of people feel the same way.”

Vermont awards its 17 delegates proportionally among candidates that receive at least 20% of the vote, unless one candidate gets 50% or greater, in which case that candidate receives all the delegates.

Trump’s appeal among Republicans in Vermont is far from universal. Burlington resident Dan Holden said it’s difficult for him to comprehend why the former president continues to hold sway over so many of his fellow conservatives.

“I can’t stand the man,” said Holden, who voted for Haley Tuesday. “He’s just terrible. He’s disgusting. He’s crooked. He calls Joe [Biden] crooked, and I’m thinking, ‘Come on.’ I can’t fully understand how people believe him. I really can’t.”

Views on Biden

Biden’s margin of victory over Trump in Vermont in 2020 was one of the most lopsided in the country; he defeated Trump here by about 35 percentage points. While polls show many Democrats are concerned about Biden leading their ticket in 2024, voters such as Johanna Nichols, in Montpelier, said she’s “Joe Biden all the way.”

“People need to start realizing all of the benefits that they’re getting because of the legislation that he’s gotten passed,” Nichols said.

Nichols said she struggles to understand why Biden isn’t eliciting the same level of enthusiasm in other Democrats.

“I don’t know if it’s the media that’s not getting the message across because they’re so focused on his age … or if it’s the campaign that needs to ramp up,” she said.

For some left-leaning voters in Vermont, it’s Biden’s position on the war in Gaza that’s eroded support. Emerson Bemis, a 21-year-old student at Vermont State University in Johnson, said he’s passionate about social justice. And he said he voted “uncommitted” Tuesday as a way to protest Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas War.

“The main reason that I’m here is to vote in the primaries, is to vote for someone other than Joe Biden to show I don’t support his current stance and policies that he’s implementing,” Bemis said.

A man opens a door to a white building. A sign reads "Ballot vote in the basement."
Howard Weiss-Tisman
Vermont Public
Voters in Londonderry gathered on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 for town meeting.

Some Vermonters headed to the polls Tuesday with grave concerns about the state of the union.

Al and June Morrison have lived in Morristown since 1969. The downtown they moved into 50 years ago, they said, was a bustling hub of commerce and social activity.

“All these buildings here on this street used to be busy stores,” Al Morrison said, gesturing toward the old edifices.

The comparative lack of retail activity now, he said, is emblematic of the economic decay he fears many communities in Vermont are experiencing.

A recent national NBC poll found that 19% of voters think their children’s future is brighter than their own – a record low in the 34 years the poll has posed the question.

Eddie Adams, a 33-year-old Elmore resident who’s lived in the town “since I was in diapers,” said he understands the despair.

“I’ll be blunt — there’s not much confidence,” Adams said.

He said he hopes disaffection with elected officials, however, doesn’t lead to voter apathy.

“We’re in this boat, so here we are,” he said. “You’ve got to show up and at least have a voice. I tell people all the time that don’t vote, if you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice, can’t complain.”

Bob Kinzel, Liam Elder-Connors and Lexi Krupp contributed reporting.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
Latest Stories