HomePoliticsWhat to expect during Pennsylvania's presidential and state primaries

What to expect during Pennsylvania’s presidential and state primaries

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will appear before voters Tuesday in Pennsylvania’s presidential primaries, a prelude to November’s general election, when the commonwealth is again expected to play a crucial role in the race for the White House . Later in the voting, voters will also select nominees in competitive primaries for Congress, the state legislature and three state offices.

Biden clinched the Democratic nomination and Trump the Republican nomination on March 12, and neither will face serious opposition in the primaries. Still, both presumptive nominees have been campaigning in Pennsylvania in recent days, focusing more on the November election and each other than on Tuesday’s vote.

Biden just wrapped up a three-day campaign that began Tuesday in his hometown of Scranton and concluded Thursday in Philadelphia with an event with members of the Kennedy family. Days earlier, Trump held a rally in Lehigh County, his third visit to the state this year.

With its 19 electoral votes, Pennsylvania was one of the three crucial swing states, together with Michigan and Wisconsin, that narrowly elected Trump in 2016, after almost thirty years of voting for Democratic presidential candidates. Biden won back all three states four years later with a margin in Pennsylvania of about 80,000 votes out of more than 6.9 million cast, and the states remain key election prizes in November.

Democrats in the Keystone State will also decide competitive races for attorney general, treasurer and auditor general. Five candidates are running for attorney general for the position once held by Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro. They are Philadelphia attorney Keir Bradford-Grey, former Auditor General and state Rep. Eugene DePasquale, former Bucks County prosecutor and defense attorney Joe Khan, Philadelphia State’s Attorney Jared Solomon, and Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer.

In the Republican primary for attorney general, York County District Attorney Dave Sunday is running against state Rep. Craig Williams.

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In the race to control the deeply divided Congress, first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Summer Lee faces a major challenge in the 12th District from Bhavini Patel, a member of the Edgewood Borough Council in Allegheny County. The two have discussed their positions on the war between Israel and Hamas. Lee has accused Israel of “war crimes” in Gaza and was an early supporter of a ceasefire. She also backed a campaign for “unfettered” voting during the Democratic presidential primaries to send Biden a message about the war.

In the 10th Congressional District, six Democrats are vying for the nomination to take on Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, who played an active role in the effort to keep Trump in power after his loss to Biden in the 2020 election. federal court recently ordered Perry to turn over hundreds of his text messages and emails to FBI agents investigating the attempt. His mobile phone was seized in 2022 as part of the investigation.

In the 1st Congressional District, Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick is facing a primary challenge from Mark Houck, an anti-abortion activist. In the 7th District, three Republicans are vying to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Susan Wild in the fall.

Pennsylvania is also home to a competitive race in the U.S. Senate, but Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Republican David McCormick are both running unopposed in Tuesday’s primary.

Here’s what to expect on Tuesday:


Pennsylvania’s presidential and state primaries will be held on Tuesday. Polls close at 8:00 PM ET.


The Associated Press will cover the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries, as well as 48 additional races on the ballot. Biden and Dean Phillips will appear on the Democratic presidential ballot, while Trump and Nikki Haley will appear on the Republican ballot. Voters in both primaries will also have the opportunity to write-in a candidate. The AP will also provide coverage of contested primaries for attorney general, auditor, treasurer, U.S. House, Senate and State House.

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Pennsylvania has a closed primary system, meaning that only voters registered with a political party are allowed to participate in that party’s primaries. Democrats are not allowed to vote in Republican primaries and vice versa. Independent or unaffiliated voters may not participate in either primary election.


Pennsylvania’s 159 pledged Democratic delegates are allocated according to the national party’s standard rules. Thirty-five at-large delegates are allocated in proportion to the statewide vote, as well as 19 PLEO delegates, or “party leaders and elected officials.” At stake for the state’s 17 congressional districts are a total of 105 delegates, allocated in proportion to the voting results in each district. Candidates must receive at least 15% of the statewide vote to qualify for statewide delegates, and 15% of the vote in a congressional district to qualify for delegates in that district.

Pennsylvania has 67 Republican delegates. The winner of the statewide vote receives all sixteen delegates. The state’s 17 congressional districts each have three additional delegates, for a total of 51 delegates at the district level, but these are not awarded to candidates based on the primary ballot. Instead, people who want to run for congressional delegate appear on the ballot and are chosen directly by voters. They are elected as unattached delegates, meaning they are not required to vote for a particular candidate at the convention. The AP does not report vote totals for delegate candidates.


In the presidential race, Biden and Trump are the favorites in their primaries as neither candidate faces a credible challenge. Early indications of them winning statewide at a level consistent with the overwhelming margins seen in most other contests held this year could be enough to determine the statewide winners.

For other statewide primaries, vote-rich counties Philadelphia, Allegheny, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Lancaster and Chester are the top jurisdictions to watch.

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The AP does not make forecasts and will only declare a winner if it has been established that there is no scenario with which the underlying candidates can close the gap. If no race is called, the AP will continue to report on any newsworthy developments, such as concessions to candidates or declarations of victory. The AP will make it clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.

In Pennsylvania, races with a voting margin of 0.5 percentage points or less are subject to an automatic recount. The AP can declare a winner in a race eligible for a recount if it can determine the lead is too large for a recount or legal challenge to change the outcome.


As of April 15, there were more than 8.7 million registered voters in Pennsylvania, about 45% Democrats and 40% Republicans.

In the 2022 midterm primaries, turnout was approximately 15% of registered voters in both the Democratic and Republican primaries. About 42% of votes in the Democratic primaries that year were cast before Election Day, compared to about 11% in the Republican primaries.

As of Thursday, a total of 413,952 votes had been cast before Election Day, about 73% from Democrats and about 26% from Republicans.

How long does vote counting usually take?

In the 2022 midterm primaries, the AP first reported results at 8:04 p.m. ET, or four minutes after polls closed. Election night tabulation ended at 2:45 a.m. ET with approximately 91% of the total votes counted.


As of Tuesday, there are 83 days until the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, 118 days until the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and 196 days until the November general election.


Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2024 elections at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024.

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