Trump, Clinton winners in Pa., dominant in Northeast
Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton rolled Tuesday to convincing wins in Pennsylvania's presidential primaries, unofficial tallies showed.
The Pennsylvania win punctuated a five-state sweep for Trump that included wins in Connecticut, Maryland, Rhode Island and Delaware. Clinton won four states. Her opponent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont won Rhode Island.
Clinton's wins significantly dim prospects for Sanders. But Trump's victory in Pennsylvania did not provide a clear signal of how many delegates he'll get, thanks to the GOP's unique system of awarding delegates here.
“Technically we don't know who really won the Pennsylvania Republican primary. Trump won the popular vote, but as everyone has learned in this election cycle, it's the delegates who count,” said Charlie Gerow, a Harrisburg-based GOP political consultant who ran for delegate in the 5th Congressional District.
With more than 80 percent of the state's precincts reporting, Trump had collected 57 percent of the votes cast, while U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas had 21 percent and Ohio Gov. John Kasich 19 percent, the unofficial tallies showed. On the Democratic side, Clinton was leading Sanders, 56 percent to 44 percent.
“Our campaign is about restoring people's confidence in our ability to solve problems together by delivering results that help people follow their dreams,” Clinton said during a 15-minute victory speech in Philadelphia.
Clinton took to the podium about 10 minutes after The Associated Press declared her the winner in Pennsylvania, Tuesday night's big prize with 189 Democratic delegates at stake. As of 10 p.m., Clinton had won 2,097 delegates in the nation's primary contests, just 286 delegates shy of securing the Democratic nomination.
Trump, who celebrated in Manhattan's Trump Tower, described his sweep as “a far bigger win than we expected” and a sign of his broad appeal.
“Every one of (Tuesday's victories) was conclusive, and every state is so different,” said Trump, who spoke for about 10 minutes and then fielded questions from the media.
As of 10 p.m., Trump had won 950 delegates so far in the nation's primary contests, just 287 delegates shy of securing the GOP nomination.
Trump's win in Pennsylvania guarantees him only 17 delegates. Those delegates, appointed by the party, are required to cast at least their first convention ballot for the Republican presidential candidate who won statewide.
Pennsylvania's remaining 54 delegates — three elected by voters in each of the state's 18 congressional districts — are “unbound,” meaning they can vote to nominate whomever they want regardless of the primary's outcome.
The Tribune-Review reached out to the 162 people who ran for the 54 delegate slots. Of the 140 candidates who participated in the survey, 61 said they would cast their first convention ballot for the presidential contender who won their congressional district or statewide. Another 33 said they intended to vote for Trump or were leaning toward doing so, while 28 were in Cruz's camp.
During his victory speech, Trump said he believed all 54 unbound delegates had a “moral obligation” to cast their first convention ballot for the state's primary winner.
Gerow said the presidential candidates' real jockeying for delegates begins Wednesday.
“It's unclear if Trump will earn the support of the delegates who won Tuesday evening. That is something that will have to be fleshed out in the upcoming weeks,” said Gerow, who served as a delegate to the last contested GOP convention in 1976.
Compared to Cruz's campaign, Trump struggled until recently to secure delegates, said Jeff Brauer, a political science professor at Lackawanna County's Keystone College. But Trump's campaign placed greater emphasis on securing delegates in recent weeks. Brauer predicted the billionaire businessman would “end up getting a decent share of the 54 (elected delegates) since some already do support him and others feel obliged to go with the popular vote.”
All of the presidential candidates focused heavily on Western Pennsylvania as they crisscrossed the state in advance of the primary.
Sanders held two big rallies in Pittsburgh, drawing thousands of people to Downtown's David L. Lawrence Convention Center and hundreds more to the University of Pittsburgh's Fitzgerald Fieldhouse.
Clinton held her biggest rally in a Carnegie Mellon University gymnasium that could only accommodate 2,000 people; thousands more rallied outside. She returned to the region in the waning days of the primary race, campaigning in Pittsburgh and Westmoreland County and enlisting some help from husband, former President Bill Clinton.
On the Republican side, Trump was the biggest and most controversial draw. His April 13 appearance at the Downtown convention center drew a slightly larger crowd than Sanders, and hundreds of people had to be turned away at the door. But the event also drew more than 1,000 protesters, and a tense situation turned chaotic when the thousands of rally-goers poured out of the convention center following Trump's speech.
Police arrested three people, and several people, including at least three police officers, were treated for minor injuries. Protests also marked an event earlier that day in Oakland, but police said the atmosphere there was genial.
Kasich, a McKees Rocks native, made multiple visits to the Pittsburgh area, including holding a town hall meeting at Montour High School on the eve of the primary. Cruz was the last candidate to visit the area, holding a rally Saturday that drew about 800 people to Monroeville's Gateway High School.
Clinton's victory nearly assures her path to the Democratic nomination and a place in American history. She would be the first woman to receive a major party's nomination for president.
“Absent an indictment, the race on the Democratic side is now over,” said Paul Sracic, a political science professor at Youngstown State University.
“Her clear victories in both New York and now Pennsylvania should take most of the wind out of Sen. Sanders' sails,” Clinton said.
The biggest question going forward is whether Clinton feels safe enough to move back to the center, said Sracic.
“It is her natural political home,” Sracic said. “If Trump is as weak with the national electorate as polls are now showing, she will have the opportunity to grab conservative-leaning centrist voters who are turned off by Trump.”