Biden and Trump clinch Pennsylvania primaries shortly after polls close

<span>A polling place in Danville, Pennsylvania.</span><span>Photograph: Paul Weaver/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock</span>
A polling place in Danville, Pennsylvania.Photograph: Paul Weaver/Sopa Images/Rex/Shutterstock

Joe Biden and Donald Trump both won their primaries in Pennsylvania shortly after polls closed.

Pennsylvanians had gone to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots in the state’s primary races – the results provide a window into where voters in the crucial battleground stand roughly six months out from the general election.

Biden and Trump had already locked up their parties’ nominations, but Pennsylvania voters still had other options in the presidential primaries.

With nearly 50% of the votes counted, Biden got 491,892 votes, or 94.4%, according to state election data. Dean Phillips, a Democratic congressman who dropped out of the race, got 29,333 votes, or 5.6%.

Trump got 268,670 votes, or 79.4%, with 33% of the votes counted, while Nikki Haley, who dropped out the race, got 70,648 votes, or 20.6%, data shows.

Haley, a former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador, remained on the Pennsylvania ballot after dropping out of the race in March. Primary voting in the state is confined to registered Republicans, locking out the independent voters who favored her.

Her results show that a number of Republicans continue to be unhappy with Trump, who is on trial on 34 criminal counts in New York.

Related: Pro-Israel US groups plan $100m effort to unseat progressives over Gaza

Biden faced challenges of his own in Pennsylvania, which he won in 2020 by about 80,000 votes, or 1.2 points. A group of progressive activists had run a campaign to encourage Democrats to write in “uncommitted” on Tuesday to protest against Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza. The effort, based on the similar Listen to Michigan campaign, hopes to get at least 40,000 Democrats to write in “uncommitted”, but it may take weeks to get those ballots counted.

On Tuesday, voters had the economy and foreign policy on their minds as they cast their ballots.

Karen Lau, a 70-year-old retired educator in Kingston, said she would be voting for Trump. She said Biden’s handling of the conflict in Gaza was a top issue. “Biden’s destroying our country,” she said. “The hypocrisy with Israel of saying one thing and meaning another with Biden.”

Even though Trump has been quiet on what exactly he would do in Israel, Lau said she was convinced he would handle it better. “He’s always been a supporter of Israel,” she said, citing the Abraham accords and Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. “I just have a lot more trust in what he will do.”

Lau, who is Jewish, added that she was “very concerned” with pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses. “The rise of antisemitism is something I never thought I would see in my lifetime,” she said.

Richard K, a 69-year-old retired security guard in Kingston who declined to give his last name, also said he was unbothered that Trump was not that much younger than Biden.

“Trump plays golf when he can, he has a lot more energy,” he said. “Biden walks like an old man.” He also dismissed the criminal cases against Trump, calling them “election interference”.

“If he wasn’t ahead, they wouldn’t be going after him,” he said.

Biden and Trump recently held events in Pennsylvania before the primary, underscoring the state’s pivotal role in the election. At a campaign stop last week in Scranton, where Biden was born, the president used the setting to contrast his vision for the country’s future with Trump’s.

“When I look at the economy, I don’t see it through the eyes of Mar-a-Lago, I see it through the eyes of Scranton,” Biden said, referring to Trump’s Florida resort home. “Scranton values or Mar-a-Lago values: these are the competing visions for our economy that raise fundamental questions of fairness at the heart of this campaign.”

Farther down the ballot, Pennsylvanians will cast votes in congressional primaries that will help determine control of the Senate and the House in November. In the Senate race, incumbent Bob Casey ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, while Dave McCormick was the sole candidate in the Republican primary.

McCormick ran for Pennsylvania’s other Senate seat in 2022, but he lost the primary to the celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz, who was later defeated by the Democrat John Fetterman in the general election. The Pennsylvania Senate race will probably be one of the most expensive in the country, as Casey reported having nearly $12m in cash on hand earlier this month while McCormick’s campaign has more than $6m in the bank. The Cook Political Report rates the race as “lean Democrat”.

Several House races will provide additional clues about Pennsylvania voters’ leanings ahead of the general election. In the Pittsburgh-based 12th district, the progressive congresswoman and “Squad” member Summer Lee faces a challenge from local council member Bhavini Patel, who has attacked the incumbent over her support for a ceasefire in Gaza. The Moderate Pac, a group that supports centrist Democrats and is largely funded by the Republican mega-donor Jeffrey Yass, has spent more than $600,000 supporting Patel, and the race will be closely scrutinized as an early test for progressives facing primary challenges this year.

In south-eastern Pennsylvania, the Republican representative Brian Fitzpatrick won his primary after attracting a threat from an anti-abortion activist, Mark Houck, who criticized the incumbent for being too centrist. In 2022, Fitzpatrick won re-election by 10 points in a district that Biden carried by 4.6 points two years earlier, according to the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. Cook rates the first district as “likely Republican” in the general election. Fitzpatrick will face Democrat Ashley Ehasz, who ran uncontested in the Democratic primary, in November.

Elsewhere in the state, Ryan Mackenzie, a Republican state representative, won the seventh-district GOP primary, vying for the chance to face off against the Democratic incumbent Susan Wild. The Lehigh Valley district is considered a “toss-up” in the general election, per Cook’s ratings.

In the 10th district, based around the city of Harrisburg, Democrat Janelle Stelson won the crowded Democratic primary. The former news anchor will face the Republican incumbent and former House freedom caucus chair Scott Perry. Cook rates Perry’s race as “lean Republican” in the general election.

Reuters contributed to this report