By Jim Ellis
April 27, 2016 — Donald Trump exceeded expectations in last night’s eastern regional primary and looks to have won 112 of the available 118 delegates in the five voting states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island). He needed at least 103 to stay on course for a first-ballot nomination victory.
The GOP front-runner captured a majority in every state, ranging from a high of 64 percent in Rhode Island to a low of 55 percent in Maryland. More importantly, he swept the winner-take-all by congressional district states in Connecticut and Maryland, winning each of the combined 13 congressional districts. Not only did Trump win every district and thus score backdoor winner-take-all victories in the congressional district domains along with adding the one at-large winner-take-all state (Delaware) to his column, he went so far as to win every county in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
The April 26 primaries came on the last day that featured more than two states — until we reach the nomination finale on June 7. That day, an additional five states will host primary voting, including California. With its 172-delegate contingent, the Golden State is the nation’s largest delegation and will likely decide whether Trump can score a first-ballot victory or if the nomination battle falls into a contested convention.
For the Democrats, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton placed first in four of the five states and easily expanded her delegate take. Sen. Bernie Sanders took the Rhode Island primary, and came close in Connecticut, but Clinton easily captured the bigger states of Maryland and Pennsylvania. She also won a strong victory in Delaware. In all, Clinton likely captured about 200 delegates according to preliminary counts, well beyond the 27 percent she needs to average from the outstanding delegate pool in order to clinch the nomination.
In all, last night proved to be a great one for Trump and Clinton. Both are knocking on the door of winning their respective nominations.
Maryland & Pennsylvania
Both Maryland and Pennsylvania hosted key Senate primaries and several competitive US House contests. The Pennsylvania primary featured the first incumbent to lose a re-nomination battle.
In Maryland, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8) pulled away in the last week of the campaign to score a 53-39 percent victory over Rep. Donna Edwards (D-PA-4). The last public poll from the primary campaign, a Monmouth University study, predicted the final outcome almost exactly. At the time, the data looked to be an anomaly because it was beyond what other pollsters were producing, but their 52-36 percent prediction was almost exact. Van Hollen will now face state House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga in the general election. Winning the Democratic primary virtually clinched the November election for Van Hollen.
In the Maryland House races, all incumbents were easily re-nominated as expected and the two open nominations were decided. Former lieutenant governor and defeated 2014 gubernatorial nominee Anthony Brown (D) scored 42 percent of the 4th District Democratic primary vote, which was good enough to secure a nomination victory. He is now a sure winner in November.
In the mega-spending open 8th District, where the top three candidates spent more than $15 million in this primary, state Sen. Jamie Raskin outlasted Total Wine chain store owner David Trone and former news anchor and Marriott Hotels executive Kathleen Matthews to win the Democratic nomination and effectively the seat. Raskin overcame more than $10 million in spending from Trone, to record a 34-27 percent margin against the local businessman. The veteran state legislator now advances to the general election where he will easily win in November.
The Pennsylvania Democratic establishment pulled out all the stops for former gubernatorial chief of staff Katie McGinty and she rewarded their support with a solid win over former US representative and 2010 Senate nominee Joe Sestak. Two days ago we reported a Harper Polling survey release that became the first study to find McGinty holding a sizable lead. At the time, it was believe the poll was either an anomaly or a trendsetter. The latter proved correct, as McGinty scored an impressive 43-33-19 percent win over Sestak and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman. She will now challenge Sen. Pat Toomey (R) in November in what will be a close race.
In the House, 2nd District Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Philadelphia), facing federal indictment for several offenses, fell to state Rep. Dwight Evans by eight percentage points. Evans will come to Congress next year once he scores an easy general election victory. Rep. Fattah is the first incumbent of either party to be denied re-nomination. He first won the seat in 1994.
In the open Bucks County 8th District, the retiring incumbent’s brother easily won the Republican nomination. Former FBI agent Brian Fitzpatrick (R) will now attempt to continue the path his brother, four-term Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R), embarked upon in Congress. Fitzpatrick will face state Rep. Steve Santarsiero, who outdistanced businesswoman Shaughnessy Naughton 60-40 percent. This is the second consecutive Democratic primary loss for Naughton. Fitzpatrick is favored to hold the seat in the general election, though Santarsiero will be a competitive candidate.
In the 9th District, despite a 10:1 spending advantage, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster (R) barely outlasted retired Coast Guard officer Art Halvorson. The victory margin was only 51-49 percent, a spread of just over 1,000 votes. With no general election candidate filed, Shuster is guaranteed another term despite his close call last night.
Finally, in the open 16th District with veteran Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Lancaster) retiring, state Sen. Lloyd Smucker fought off a heavy-spending effort from businessman Chet Beiler to claim the Republican nomination. Smucker’s 55-45 percent victory gives him the inside track for a November election victory.