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Zirpoli: Clinton likely to secure nomination by month's end

By the end of April we will likely learn that former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States. This is because by April 26, six states — New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island — will hold primary contests.

Thirty-seven states have held Democratic primaries so far. Clinton has won 20 of them and Sen. Bernie Sanders has won 17. Depending on how some of the states count caucus versus. primary votes, Clinton has secured somewhere between 2.4 and 2.7 million more votes than Sanders (and about a million more votes than Donald Trump) this primary season thus far.

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Of the 2,891 delegates determined to date, including super-delegates, Clinton has secured 1,774 of them (61 percent of those already determined and 37 percent of the total available) to Sander's 1,117 (39 percent of those determined and 22 percent of the total available). Whoever secures 2,383 delegates, 50 percent of the 4,763 available, wins the nomination.

Even if you remove the super-delegates, Clinton has won 55 percent of the 2,391 delegates determined thus far compared to 45 percent for Sanders. Even without the super-delegates, this is a wider range of victory for Clinton than when Barack Obama won the nomination over her in 2008.

For Sanders to catch up to Clinton on the delegate count, he would have to win all the big states of New York, Pennsylvania, California and New Jersey with about 60 percent of the votes or all 20 remaining primaries with at least 57 percent of the vote. This is unlikely considering that, thus far, he has accomplished this in only New Hampshire and his home state of Vermont. Also, polls show Clinton leading Sanders in all four of these big states.

Sanders recently won both Wisconsin and Wyoming. But because Democrats distribute delegates proportionately, Clinton still added 45 delegates to her total compared to Sanders 55 delegates — a net of only 10 delegates for Sanders. As Philip Bump of the The Washington Post wrote, "There are no winner-take-all primaries or caucuses on the Democratic side. Every contest allocates delegates proportionally. What that means in simple terms is that it's hard for a front-runner to pull away and very hard for an underdog to close the gap."

If Clinton wins New York on April 19 with 247 delegates at stake and Pennsylvania on April 26 with 189 delegates, the race will be all but over. Except for the California primary on June 7 with 475 delegates at stake, there are not enough other delegate-rich states for Sanders to catch up and overtake Clinton's total.

The Republican convention may be contested because neither Donald Trump nor Senator Ted Cruz is likely to have 50 percent of the delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot; this will not be an issue at the Democratic convention.

Sanders' supporters will not be pleased, and if Donald Trump can't get to 50 percent of the delegates on the first ballot at the GOP convention, his supporters will also be unhappy. But for both parties, winning a simple majority of the delegates is the standard to become the party's nominee. Getting close does not count.

Just ask Clinton. In 2008, she won 46 percent of all the delegates, far more than Sanders who has secured only 39 percent of delegates determined thus far. Yet, she lost to Obama who won 54 percent of the delegates by convention time.

Majority rules. It is called democracy.

Tom Zirpoli writes from Westminster. He is program coordinator for the human services management graduate program at McDaniel College. His column appears on Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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