Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the big winners in Pennsylvania’s primary.
Amid strong turnout, Pennsylvania’s primary seemed to go as planned for Hillary Clinton, who strengthened her sizable lead over Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race for president.
But the big winner of the night was Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, who swept Pennsylvania and four other states by such impressive margins that news organizations called the races within minutes of the polls closing. Trump’s performance will likely strengthen his attempt to claim the GOP nomination by seizing enough delegates to forestall a contested party convention this summer.
Earlier in the day Tuesday, area polls were bustling — even as voters expressed a desire to see primary day end.
“I’m just excited for it to be over,” Center City resident Nadine Winikur said as she left her polling place with an “I VOTED TODAY” sticker pinned to her shirt.
Winikur surely wasn’t alone in her election fatigue, but poll workers said turnout was brisk.
“Turnout has been really, really good — and early,” said Susan Levin, the judge of elections for the William Penn House at 1919 Chestnut St.
The Associated Press almost immediately called the races for Trump and Clinton, albeit it not in Pennsylvania, after the polls closed.
Pro-Clinton chants reverberated off the walls of the Pennsylvania Convention Center after her win in neighboring Delaware and Maryland was announced via CNN.
The third-floor Terrace Ballroom was garnished in red, white and blue as a live band set the precedent for the vibrant mood of what was a sweeping victory.
In her roughly 15-minute speech to the crowd, she focused on addressing her ideas toward making health care and college tuition more affordable, increasing jobs, and defending civil, human and voting rights for all.
“Underneath all these worries, together we are going to come together and we are going to solve this,” she said among the roaring audience. “I am aware that too many people feel at the mercy of forces too big for anyone to control, and they just worry that those of us in politics put our own interests ahead of the national interests. The faith that we can make things better, that we can give our kids a better future, is at the heart of who we are as a nation.
“We will build on a strong progressive tradition from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama,” she continued. “We’re going to imagine a tomorrow where hard work is honored, families are supported, streets are safe and communities are strong, and where love trumps hate.”
Clinton mentioned Trump’s recent “accusation” of “playing the woman card,” to which she replied, “If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in.”
“America’s greatness is not a birthright,” she emphasized. “It must be earned by every generation.”
Meantime, by 8 p.m., people started trickling into the Gaslight restaurant on Market Street for a watch party for voters supporting Sanders.
A “Bernie 2016” sign hung in the window and a few people were sitting at tables, with more at the bar. A fair few were sporting “I Voted Today” stickers and “Bernie 2016”pins.
A soundtrack of ’80s hits played in the background as the restaurant operated normally.
A few people from Sanders’ campaign came later, including press secretary Simone Sanders, who arrived a little after 8:30 p.m.
As of 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, with 99.5 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist who represents Vermont as an independent senator, had lost badly to Clinton, the former first lady, New York senator and secretary of state. Clinton collected 55.6 percent of the vote to 43.6 percent for Sanders.
With 210 delegates at stake in the Democratic race, Tuesday’s primary results, especially when combined with the other states in the so-called “Acela primary” — Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island — could make it mathematically impossible for Sanders to secure the nomination.
In Pennsylvania, as in the other states, Trump won by huge margins against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The pair had announced the day before their intention to strategically play each remaining state off of the other in the quest to prevent Trump enough delegates to claim the nomination outright. But Trump had 56.7 percent of the vote, to about 21.6 percent for Cruz and 19.4 percent for Kasich.
Among Democrats in the hotly contested race to face off against incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey in November, Gov. Tom Wolf’s former chief of staff, Katie McGinty, beat former congressman Joe Sestakas. She had 43 percent of the vote, compared to just 33 percent for Sestak.
In the same race, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman and Joseph Vodvarka were a distant third and fourth, with 19 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
In the race among Democrats seeking to replace embattled Attorney General Kathleen Kane, Josh Shapiro defeated Stephen Zappala, 47 percent to 36 percent, with John Morganelli trailing at 16 percent. On the Republican side, Rafferty comfortably beat Joe Peters, 64 percent to 36 percent.
Polls were busy, with each of Pennsylvania’s 18 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives up for grabs, as were all 203 seats in the state House of Representatives and half of the 50 state Senate seats. (Only a handful, however, were considered competitive.)
Of course, the most sensational race has been the presidential primary.
All the candidates hit the state hard prior to the election, sometimes in close proximity: Sanders spoke at the national AFL-CIO convention in Philadelphia just one day after Clinton did.
Clinton also spoke in Philadelphia on a panel about gun violence, then made a campaign stop at the city’s newest music venue, the Fillmore in Fishtown, where a group of about 10 protesters briefly interrupted her speech before they were escorted out by security.
The week before Election Day, Clinton visited two Baptist churches in Philly, pressed the flesh in City Hall’s courtyard and chose the Pennsylvania Convention Center as her Election Day headquarters.
Sanders spoke in Scranton; at Temple, Drexel and Millersville universities; at a rally in Montgomery County; and at a town hall meeting in Gettysburg. The weekend before the election, he headed to Wilmington, where he spoke at the Chase Center.
Meanwhile, former president Bill Clinton stumped for his wife in Pittsburgh, a city Trump hit not once but twice leading up to the April 26 primary.
The GOP frontrunner also spoke at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, at a rally in Wilkes-Barre, and at West Chester University, while rival Cruz hit Hershey, Scranton and Williamsport. Kasich also stopped in Hershey and ate at the Penrose Diner while in Philadelphia.
Before 2 p.m., about a third of the 600 eligible voters at the William Penn House had already voted, which elections judge Levin called “amazing.”
Not everything was perfect, though: One of the two voting machines had been having mechanical difficulties all morning.
Even with mechanical problems, the mood was buoyant.
Kosher for Passover treats sat on a table tempting building residents who’d come to vote, and people laughed and talked as they stood in line. A man leaning on a walker footed by tennis balls struggled to figure out whether his vote had gone through.
Republican voters were given pink index cards to hold so as not to call attention to party affiliation; almost 90 percent of the eligible voters in the building are registered Democrats.
Affiliation was less obvious at First Presbyterian Church, whose polling place — a large room with luminous hardwood floors and stained glass windows — serves three different divisions of Philadelphia’s Ward 8.
Workers there seemed a bit more harried, but outside, a cluster of campaigners stood on pretty little Chancellor Street, trying to catch voters before they went in.
Melissa Muroff, wife of congressional candidate Dan Muroff, said it was a busy day at the church, with people describing a record turnout.
“I am feeling pretty pumped,” she said. “I’m not thinking about the final outcome. I’m focused on everything we’ve been doing up till now.”
She was definitely proud of her husband.
“Frankly anyone who throws their hat into the ring,” she said, “is pretty outstanding, no matter the result.”
Rachel Kurland and Marissa Stern contributed to this story.