Charlie Brown hesitated every time, but Lucy always reassured him that the football wouldn't move. Then she yanked it away at the last second.

And every four years, Republicans say they are going to contest Pennsylvania in the presidential election, only to pull TV advertising and staff in October, leaving the state jilted like the famous cartoon Everyman.

But on Tuesday, Donald Trump demonstrated that the GOP might be competitive in 2016 in a region that has been cool to the party in national elections, with sweeping victories in Pennsylvania and four more states along the Acela corridor: Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland.

His appeal cut across almost all demographic groups, according to exit polls, raising doubts about the shaky new alliance between Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and other efforts by mainstream Republican leaders to try to stop the mogul.

"Trump as the nominee puts Pennsylvania in play," said T.J. Rooney, a Democratic strategist and former state party chairman. "That's predicated on them getting serious and being able to identify and organize the Democrats, independents, and Republicans who make up the mad-as-hell coalition."

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton won all the states Tuesday except Rhode Island, which Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders snatched.

Celebrating her victories in Philadelphia, she turned to the general election.

"We will unify our party to win this election and build an America . . . where we lift each other up instead of tearing each other down," Clinton said.

For the primary in the Keystone State, the Trump campaign organized to recruit and promote slates of supportive candidates for the 54 unbound delegate slots elected by congressional district. It had hundreds of poll workers and palm cards for voters to identify the Trump supporters among the delegate candidates.

David Urban, a lobbyist and former chief of staff to the late Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, parachuted in to help organize Pennsylvania in the last week, as did Jim Schultz, who was general counsel to Tom Corbett when he was governor.

"We were putting together a real grassroots ground game, unlike what the Trump campaign has had in other states," Schultz said. He supported New Jersey Gov. Christie and moved toward Trump when Christie endorsed him.

In Pennsylvania, Trump had the support of the majority of men and women, voters with incomes over $100,000 and under $50,000, and Republicans in cities, suburbs, and rural areas.

He also won among voters under 45 and those 45 and older, and both moderates and conservatives.

"Trump's expansion among the higher-educated and women has been incredible," said Christopher Borick, a pollster from Muhlenberg College in Allentown. "I think Trump is right when he says this is his biggest night. It's hard to imagine him not being the nominee at this point."

Trump's base expanded elsewhere, too. He won 72 percent of Connecticut Republican voters with a high school education or less - but also 54 percent of those with a college degree, an uptick from his usual showing.

Exit polling in other states had identified Trump's core support as disaffected, less educated, and less affluent white middle-age voters who are worried about their economic circumstances. Across all the states with data available, Trump was supported by 35 percent of college graduates, lower than his 47 percent among those with a high school education or less.

For Democrats, the question remains: What does Bernie want? Does he keep fighting on in the hope of getting some of his ideas in the Democratic platform at the July convention in Philadelphia? It would take a miracle for him to overtake Clinton in the number of delegates won.

His top adviser, Tad Devine, has said that Sanders would "reevaluate" his campaign after Tuesday.

Sanders sounded unready to surrender, however, during a town-hall interview Monday night on MSNBC. He said it was not his responsibility to fall in line and persuade his supporters to back Clinton.

"It is incumbent upon her to tell millions of people who right now do not believe in establishment politics or establishment economics, who have serious misgivings about a candidate who has received millions of dollars from Wall Street and other special interests," he said.

215-854-2718 @tomfitzgerald