All posts by Matthew Reade

Debunking the Wage Gap Myth

On April 12th, feminist organizations across the United States acknowledged Equal Pay Day, a date which symbolizes just how far into the new calendar year a woman must work in order to earn what a man did in the previous year. The White House reports that a typical full-time working woman in the U.S. in 2014 made only 79 cents for every dollar that a full-time working man earned. Based on this data and “decades of research,” the White House has concluded that women face a “real and persistent problem” of pay discrimination across the country. But upon closer examination, the gender wage gap reveals itself to be based far more in fiction than in fact.

First, the oft-cited 79-cent figure offers a woefully incomplete picture of the actual disparity or lack thereof between the wages of men and women. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calculates the popular figure by taking the median annual earnings of all full-time male and female workers and dividing them into one another. Though this approach gives us a gross approximation of how much more men earn than women on average, it fails—as the BLS freely admits—to “control for many factors that can be significant in explaining earnings differences.”

One of these factors is hours worked. Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics only includes full-time workers—those employees who work 35 or more hours a week—it does not distinguish between those who work beyond this cutoff. This difference turns out to be significant, as men tend to work longer hours. According to the Department of Labor, 25 percent of full-time male workers spent 41 or more hours on the job, while only 14 percent of female full-time workers did the same. And when only men and women who work more than 40 hours a week are compared, the wage gap shrinks by more than half to only ten cents.

Differences in occupation and experience also explain the wage differential between men and women. In 2013, PayScale—an online compensation information company—conducted a survey of men and women across over 120 different occupational categories. The survey grouped the salaries of the respondents by occupation and level of experience and then found the median pay for each gender within each category, thereby isolating men and women with similar jobs and experience and comparing them side-by-side. According to The Atlantic, PayScale’s study showed that the wage gap “nearly evaporates” when workers of similar experience and occupation are compared. As PayScale’s chief economist Katie Bardaro noted, “the gender wage gap disappears for most positions” when education and management responsibilities  are considered.

PayScale’s survey also uncovered a late-career wage gap between women and men. Though both sexes command similar wages at the start of their careers, female wages tend to fall behind those of men over time. But this differential is less evidentiary of pay discrimination against women than it is a result of men and women fulfilling different career preferences and making different life choices. For example, an international study conducted in 2013 by the career networking site LinkedIn found that nearly two-thirds of professional women view “finding the right balance between work and personal life” as their definition of success in the workplace, while less than half prioritize “earning a high salary.” And as Carrie Lukas from the Independent Women’s Forum discussed in Forbes Magazine, women value jobs which offer “regular hours, more comfortable conditions, little travel, and greater personal fulfillment,” and sacrifice a higher salary in order to obtain these attractive occupational benefits.

But according to Claudia Goldin, an economics professor at Harvard University, men feel differently, preferring “income growth” to “temporal flexibility” in the workplace. This is part of the reason why the ten most dangerous occupations in the United States—all jobs which pay well relative to the education level they require but involve an extraordinary risk of bodily harm or death—are all male-dominated, with all but one of these jobs having more than a 94 percent male workforce. As Mark Perry from the American Enterprise Institute cheekily notes, males are so heavily represented in the most dangerous occupations that the next “Equal Occupational Fatality Day”—the day on which the number of work-related deaths of women will match the number which men experienced last calendar year—will be over thirteen years from now.

The different preferences of males and females manifest themselves in other ways too. In college, women tend to select majors which lead to lower-paying careers, while men do the opposite. According to research by Georgetown University economist Anthony Carnevale, only one of the ten lowest-paying majors—“theology and religious vocations”—is chosen more often by men, while “pharmacy sciences and administration” is the only one of the top ten highest-paying degrees which is majority female. But as I mentioned before, women tend to value having a meaningful job more than earning a high income, which explains their dominance of social work professions, like psychology and education, which generally are less lucrative than other professions.

The most significant difference in preferences between men and women, however, has to do with children. Because women opt to stay home and raise their children more often than men do, the median wage of women late in their careers does not keep pace with that of men, who usually decide to become or remain the principal breadwinners of their household. But when a man voluntarily exits the workforce for several years to raise his child, he cannot reasonably expect when he returns to command a wage equal to or higher than that of a woman who stayed at her job during the man’s absence and continued to acquire experience. The same holds true for the working woman who decides to leave her job in favor of rearing her child. Leaving the workforce to have and raise a child is a choice, a choice which carries foreseeable economic consequences and a nondiscriminatory impact.

Having accounted for the various variables which contribute to the wage gap—hours worked, occupation and experience, and different preferences—we now turn to the critical final argument made by progressives with respect to the gender wage gap. By this line of reasoning, the earnings differential between women and men is reflective of a “real and persistent problem” of pay discrimination in the United States which, as the White House puts it, “continues to shortchange American women and their families.” Even if economics can explain some or even most of the wage gap by “factoring in the kind of work people do” or “qualifications such as education and experience,” discrimination is the cause of whatever pay disparity remains. Therefore, the argument concludes, pay inequity must be addressed through even more sweeping government mandates and wage controls.

Single, childless women and men are the ideal sample with which to evaluate this claim. If systematic pay discrimination actually exists, women who have not yet raised a child or made any particularly dramatic life choices which can alter their earnings should have lower wages than men. But according to Time Magazine, an analysis of 2,000 communities in cities across the United States revealed that the median full-time salaries of unmarried, childless women “are an average of eight percent higher” than those of similarly situated men. In Atlanta and Memphis, this wage gap increases to a whopping 20 percent. In New York City, it is 17 percent. Coupling these figures with PayScale’s finding that “the gender wage gap disappears” when the education and responsibilities of young workers are considered, the claim that pay discrimination against women is a persistent problem which requires dramatic federal remedies simply does not hold water.

Equal Pay Day embodies a disingenuous and misleading narrative about the gender wage gap in the United States. The oft-cited 21-cent wage gap figure does not account for a multitude of factors such as occupation, experience, career preferences, and major life choices which, when combined, virtually eliminate the wage differential between men and women. And with no substantive evidence of systematic pay discrimination against women in sight, it seems that January 1st would make for a much better date for Equal Pay Day.

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Image Source: Flickr

 

Was Colorado Rigged?

In an opinion editorial published in this morning’s edition of The Wall Street Journal, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump unleashes a blistering critique of the presidential nomination process, excoriating the party establishment for “defending a system that for decades has served the interest of political parties at the expense of the people.” The editorial embodies the anti-establishment flavor of Mr. Trump’s campaign as it rails against a “rigged delegate-selection process” while pledging to seek future reforms which maximize “transparency,” “representation,” and “voter participation” in the GOP’s nomination procedures.

Mr. Trump’s words come on the heels of a major setback for him in Colorado’s caucuses last weekend, where Senator Ted Cruz swept every delegate and affirmed the superiority of his well-organized national campaign. The massive loss was full of blunders for the Trump campaign, which printed a delegate slate full of errors and misdirected the votes of many Trump supporters at the state convention. But for Mr. Trump, poor preparation had little to do with his loss. On Monday, the New York businessman took to Twitter to air his grievances, calling the Colorado caucus process “totally unfair” and accusing Ted Cruz of bribing delegates with “all sorts of goodies” in order to gain an advantage.1 In Mr. Trump’s estimation, the corrupt election system dominated by party elites—not his own campaign team’s failure to understand and organize for the Colorado caucus process—should bear the blame for his poor showing there.

To evaluate this claim, I will examine the Colorado caucus process in the context of Mr. Trump’s complaints, focusing upon the history and the political justifications which undergird the changes made to the Colorado process last year.

 

The recent history of the Colorado caucuses

The establishment wins in 2012

In 2012, former Republican senator Rick Santorum won the Colorado caucuses, defeating Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who was the preferred candidate of the so-called “party establishment,” by nearly six points. Mr. Santorum’s victory came as a surprise, particularly in light of the fact that Mr. Romney had won the state’s caucuses handily back in 2008 with over three-fifths of the vote.

Yet when it came time for Colorado’s delegates to cast their ballots in the 2012 Republican National Convention, not a single vote was cast for Mr. Santorum. Instead, because the delegates selected for the national convention were not bound by the vote in the precinct caucuses, Mitt Romney received the support of most of the state’s delegation, while the others simply refused to participate. Many party activists and grassroots conservatives in Colorado felt betrayed by this sleight-of-hand, which they viewed as an effort by the Republican Party establishment to force its candidate of choice onto the voters.

Taking back control in 2016

With the rise of Jeb Bush in the early moments of the presidential primary process last year, Republican Party grassroots activists in Colorado became deeply concerned. As the National Review recalled early this week, many conservatives were worried about a repeat of 2012, where Colorado’s state delegation was press-ganged into supporting Mitt Romney at the Republican National Convention. At the same time, a binding straw poll—though an improvement over the non-binding presidential preference vote which permitted Mr. Romney to win a delegate majority in spite of losing the state—would favor a well-funded establishment candidate, who could simply spend a few million dollars in the state to buy up advertising and build a traditional ground campaign in lieu of actually investing time and energy to reach out to grassroots conservatives.

For these reasons, party activists pushed for the abandonment of the precinct straw poll in favor of the direct election of delegates by voters in precinct caucuses, a move which gave Republicans the opportunity to elect grassroots conservatives in their communities as delegates to the county caucuses. These county caucuses would then choose delegates for the congressional-district and state assemblies, at which the final delegates for the national convention would be chosen. Unlike in 2012, all of the delegates selected for the national convention are bound to the presidential candidate for whom they have stated a preference, and each delegate’s preference is known to the caucus assemblies prior to the final vote.

The net effect of creating this complex system is two-fold. First, the elimination of the precinct straw poll, which enabled Coloradans to cast a vote for the presidential candidate of their preference, in favor of precinct caucus elections of county delegates ensures that passionate grassroots conservatives, rather than representatives of the best-funded campaign organization, would be favored for election as delegates to the county, state, and congressional-district assemblies. Had such a system existed back in 2012, Rick Santorum likely would have won significant majorities among the county convention delegations, which then could have assured him at least a majority of the state’s delegation at the Republican National Convention.

Second, by binding the delegates to the presidential candidate of their preference at the conclusion of this lengthy process, the state party rules safeguard against efforts by an establishment candidate to woo the state’s delegates and subvert the will of the conservative grassroots activists who participated in the precinct caucuses and organized for the candidate who best represents their views.

 

Evaluating Trump’s claims about Colorado

 Claim #1: “[T]he people of Colorado were not able to cast their ballots to say which nominee they preferred.”

Mr. Trump’s careful wording here is technically correct. Because the presidential preference poll was abandoned, Republican voters in Colorado could not vote for any of the presidential candidates by name.

That said, the alternative was not, as Mr. Trump seems to imply, the coronation of Mr. Cruz by Republican party elites. Though there was no presidential preference poll, Colorado voters participated in precinct caucuses to directly elect delegates—each of whom expressed a particular candidate preference—to the county assemblies, which in turn chose the makeup of the congressional-district and state conventions which would select the official national convention delegates. Therefore, in practice, the Colorado caucuses did permit voters to cast ballots for the nominee of their preference through the direct election of county delegates.

Claim #2: The delegate selection process in Colorado was “rigged” and “totally unfair.”

Complicated, perhaps. Rigged? Not at all.

The rules of the GOP Colorado caucuses are readily available online. Though they are complex, they are not difficult to grasp, and the rules clearly state how the process operates. And with respect to fairness, the mechanics of the caucuses were completely aboveboard. The vigorous debate within the state party last August about dealing away with the presidential preference poll occurred in full view of the public and culminated in a unanimous decision from the Colorado Republican Party’s executive committee to change the process to its current form. Mr. Trump had just as much time as all of the other candidates to prepare a campaign strategy that would succeed, and he was more than capable of posting a decent showing there had he made an effort to organize in the state. But no such effort was expended, and Mr. Trump lost.

Is there a better alternative to the current system?

Turning from Donald Trump’s specific criticisms of the Colorado caucuses, I wonder what sort of primary election process he would propose to replace the unrepresentative and opaque system which he claims we have now.

Mr. Trump appears to desire a simpler system which rewards candidates by proportion to their support in presidential preference elections. If a candidate has “by far the most delegates and many millions more votes than anyone else,” as the businessman tweeted last Friday, he or she should no longer have to “fight” for the nomination. In response to a debate question on the subject last month, Mr. Trump stated that “whoever gets the most delegates should win.”

These comments seem to support the adoption of a national proportional primary system, a similar process to the one which the Democratic Party currently uses. If a candidate wins a certain percent of the vote in a proportional primary, she should receive roughly that same percentage of the delegates from her victory. This sort of system is simple and fair, and I am not opposed to it.

However, Mr. Trump’s contention that the person with only a plurality—not a majority—of the delegates should be awarded the nomination anyway sets a dangerous precedent. A fractured nomination contest with multiple contenders could permit a fringe candidate with minority support to become the party’s representative in the general election, a development which would disenfranchise a majority of the party’s members and create a scenario in which one of the fundamental obligations of the political party—to tie its representatives to a distinct philosophical framework—would be left unfulfilled. It is in these situations, where the democratic process is unable to yield a decisive majority consensus, that political party leaders are so important to have. If Mr. Trump is unable to attain a majority of delegates—or, for that matter, a majority of the popular vote—there is no opportunity to turn back the clock and retry the election until he or another candidate can convince a majority of Republican voters that he is the best choice available to them. In the absence of time travel or do-overs, the delegates at the Republican National Convention must have the ultimate say if a candidate fails to demonstrate the evidence of consensus which a majority represents.

Footnotes

  1. Trump did not substantiate this latter claim, and I was unable to find any evidence for it myself.

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Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

To survive, the GOP must stop Trump

Many journalists and political commentators have already opined on the problems which would accompany the selection of Donald J. Trump as the Republican Party’s nominee for the highest office in the land. Many conservatives are concerned that Mr. Trump would lose to Hillary Clinton in the general election, given his poor poll numbers against the former secretary of state. A survey conducted this week in Utah, a state which has voted Republican in every presidential contest since 1968, revealed that Trump would narrowly lose the state in a one-on-one matchup against Secy. Clinton.

Others have argued that Mr. Trump, whose juvenile humor and penchant for personal assaults have attracted much attention this election cycle, lacks the temperament to become president. Vanity Fair even published a piece which sought to characterize Mr. Trump’s demeanor and public statements as evidence of narcissistic personality disorder. And conservative writer George Will has discussed how Trump’s lack of fealty to conservative principles will cause the Republican Party to suffer defeat in November against Hillary Clinton.

Yet Mr. Trump’s supporters would dismiss these criticisms, at least in part. On the first point, general election polls this early in the presidential election have little predictive value. An article published in 2007 by the Pew Research Center explained that early general election matchups “are mostly wrong about who will win the White House,” and an extensive analysis by political scientists Christopher Wlezian and Robert Erikson of general election polling has shown that “polls from the beginning of the election year have virtually no predictive power.”1 Wlezian and Erikson’s examination also concluded that it is not until April that general election polls begin to carry some meaningful predictive value, but even then, they are only mildly predictive of the eventual outcome. Therefore, although Mr. Trump has performed the worst of all the other Republican presidential candidates in head-to-head general election matchups thus far, we should take these results with a grain of salt, at least for now, and not dismiss the New York businessman out of hand.

On the second point, though Trump does have his (many) moments of infantile behavior, he has demonstrated at least some capacity to restrain himself and act presidential. We saw this occur in the most recent Republican debate, where the Donald largely refrained from attacking his opponents, and in the businessman’s speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s conference this week. Attempting to characterize Mr. Trump’s ego as some kind of mental disorder or incapacity, as Vanity Fair attempted to do, is nothing more than tabloid journalism.

Supporters of Mr. Trump would also argue that George Will’s critique of the brash businessman’s conservative credentials misses the mark. In general elections, partisan candidates suffer the consequences of their brinksmanship at the ballot box unless they manage to convince moderates to come aboard. Mitt Romney, for example, drew a higher percentage of conservatives to the polls in 2012 than did Ronald Reagan in his 1980 election victory, but Mr. Romney’s poor performance among moderates—whom he lost by 15 points—cost him the election. Assuming that Donald Trump can obtain the GOP nomination, his moderate and liberal policy positions—such as his support for federal funding of Planned Parenthood—will only help him in a national election, where a centrist electorate decides the outcome.

Though I could summon a bevy of counterarguments to refute these points, let us assume for a moment that Trump’s supporters are correct on all three counts. Let’s assume that the general elections polls right now, which almost all show the Donald getting trounced by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, are not predictive of the outcome on November 8th, 2016. Let’s presume also that Donald Trump is well-suited for the presidency, having the temperament and the judgment to be the leader of the free world, and that his moderate ideological dispositions might actually help him defeat the Democratic nominee for president by attracting centrist voters to his candidacy.

Even if all of these assumptions are held to be true, Republicans should still fight tooth-and-nail to defeat Donald Trump because his victory would fundamentally undermine the Republican Party and its critical role in American democracy.

Political parties are important for two main reasons. First, they represent particular visions of how society is and how it should be. Parties make it possible for voters to choose between these different perspectives—for example, between the desires for a smaller or a larger government—without necessarily knowing everything that there is to know about every single candidate who runs for public office. In other words, parties enable a voter to make an educated choice at the ballot box simply by casting his ballot for the candidate who identifies herself with the political party—and the political philosophy—which the voter himself finds agreeable. Second, by attaching holders of public office to distinct philosophical frameworks, political parties make the government comprehensible to its citizens. It would be impossible to make sense of Congress if the viewpoints of its 535 members could not be grouped by some sort of political party affiliation. When we say that the U.S. House of Representatives is currently controlled by Republicans, we are conveying something meaningful about the ideological makeup of the House as an institution and about the values and philosophies of its individual members.

But in order to realize these benefits, political parties must nominate presidential candidates who represent their values. If they fail to do so, the particular vision which the party represents will crumble into a confused mess as the nominee, who stands as the ostensible representative of the ideals of the party, presents a set of fundamental principles which directly clash with the views that he is supposed to defend. And though Donald Trump claims to embrace some conservative views, his most important policy ideas sharply contrast with the GOP’s core doctrine. Of all seventeen of the initial contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump is the only one who has categorically opposed any reforms of Social Security or Medicare. In a party which stands for a strong national defense, Mr. Trump has raised doubts as to whether the U.S. should remain in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—the “backbone of Western security policies since the Cold War“—and has intimated that he would remove American support for South Korea and Japan, which he sees as free-riders on the U.S.’s commitments in the Asia-Pacific region.2 He is a strong proponent of eminent domain3, a practice which conservatives regard as a transgression of our most fundamental property rights. And most notably, Donald Trump has railed against free trade agreements with Mexico, Japan, and other countries, saying that he would “renegotiate or break” the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as president. Yet the last Republican Party platform hailed the TPP as an opportunity to “open Asian markets to U.S. products” and even proposed a “worldwide multilateral agreement among nations committed to the principles of open markets.”

If the decidedly not conservative Donald Trump wins the Republican nomination, the party will be too hopelessly divided to articulate a clear vision of what it stands for in the months before the November general election. At his current pace, if Trump manages to clinch the nomination, he will do so without winning a majority of the popular vote. Yet as the party’s standard bearer, he would become the chief representative of the conservative worldview, a worldview against which he has openly rebelled throughout his campaign. This dissonance would ultimately lead to disaster, as most general election voters would conflate Mr. Trump’s views—particularly his unpopular stances on undocumented and Muslim immigration—with those of the Republican Party, even if most conservatives in fact strenuously disagree with his policies. And as the GOP’s fundamental philosophical tenets are pulled into his orbit, Republican candidates for public office all across the country would either have to renounce their party membership—thereby tacitly acknowledging that Mr. Trump is indeed accurately representing the GOP’s principles—or furiously deny that Donald Trump is in fact representative of their particular views on the issues or of the Republican Party as a whole. But with voters demonstrating an increasing tendency to vote for the same party in down-ballot elections as they do in the presidential contest, these arguments are unlikely to have much of an effect.

Even beyond the 2016 election, nominating Donald Trump would have severe repercussions for the Republican Party. As America’s population has become more and more diverse, the GOP has painstakingly worked to expand its outreach in minority communities and become more inclusive. Selecting Mr. Trump would upend all of that hard work and indicate that the party is willing to stand with a person who has called for barring all Muslims from entering the United States, who has promised to carry out the indiscriminate mass deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants, and who condones violence against protestors at his campaign rallies and stump speeches. If the GOP has any desire to survive beyond this November, it must defeat Donald Trump at all costs and resoundingly reject his poisonous rhetoric.

Footnotes

  1. See Erickson, Robert S., and Christopher Wlezien. The Timeline of Presidential Elections. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2012. Print. 3-5.
  2. In an interview on Meet the Press, Trump said: “We have 28,000 soldiers on the line in South Korea between the madman [Kim Jong Un, leader of North Korea] and them…We get practically nothing compared to the cost of this [involvement].” Of course, this statement is demonstrably false—South Korea spends nearly a billion dollars to support the relatively small American troop presence there—but it does reveal the contrast between Mr. Trump and the Republican Party on foreign military commitments. While Mr. Trump views U.S. involvement in the Korean peninsula and around the world as a monetary and strategic cost, most Republicans regard international engagement as a tremendous strategic benefit which far outweighs its costs. In fact, the 2012 Republican Party platform emphasized the need for “U.S. leadership in the Asian-Pacific community” and increased engagement with South Korea.
  3. The Supreme Court legitimized the practice of private-to-private eminent domain—where the government transfers property from one private owner to another, usually for the ostensible purpose of economic development—in the landmark 2005 case Kelo v. City of New London. Proponents of the Court’s expansive definition of eminent domain, including Mr. Trump, argue that this sort of government-facilitated property transference is necessary in order to kickstart economic development in blighted areas. Opponents of the Kelo decision, however, believe that this view of eminent domain, which allows the government to forcibly transfer private property from one owner to another as long as “just compensation” is provided to the original owner and the transference is “for public use,” legitimizes the abuse of private property rights, particularly those of the poor, and enriches wealthy businessmen like Trump who have the means, knowledge, and access to use eminent domain to their advantage. As conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his dissenting opinion in Kelo, “[a]llowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities.”

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Image Source: Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Super Tuesday 2.0: The fallout from the March 15th primaries

On the Republican side

Donald Trump marched to victory in four of the five Republican primaries on Tuesday, steamrolling Senator Marco Rubio on his home turf in Florida and holding back an insurgent Senator Ted Cruz in Missouri, Illinois, and North Carolina. His only loss came in Ohio, where John Kasich, the state’s popular governor, won handily. After his disappointing loss in Florida, Marco Rubio suspended his campaign, shrinking the GOP field to three candidates.

The only certainty coming out of Tuesday’s primaries is that the uncertainty of the GOP race will persist for some time. Donald Trump had a good night, but it was not quite decisive enough to make his nomination a foregone conclusion. His dominant performance in Florida, though bringing him 99 delegates closer to winning the nomination outright, also pushed Marco Rubio out of the race and strengthened Mr. Trump’s opponents. According to a new national poll by Morning Consult, nearly half of Rubio supporters back Mr. Cruz as their second-choice candidate, while just one in eight view the Donald as their best alternative. A little more than a quarter would support John Kasich. Taken in the context of Trump’s razor-thin margins of victory in Missouri and North Carolina, where he won by 0.2 percent and 4 percent respectively, these numbers indicate that Mr. Rubio’s political demise may compromise Donald Trump in the long run, giving just enough strength to Cruz and Kasich to mount serious challenges to Mr. Trump in critical states like Arizona, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Though posting strong performances in all of Tuesday’s primaries, Donald Trump failed once again to demonstrate his ability to expand his appeal beyond his narrow, impassioned core group of supporters. Though he did manage to exceed his average vote share from the previous contests, the New York real estate mogul was yet again unable to obtain a majority in a single state. The longer he fails to exceed the 50 percent mark in these primary races, the more time will pass before he will be able to credibly claim that he is a consensus candidate who can unite the party, and the more opportunities Messrs. Cruz and Kasich will have to topple Mr. Trump before he can clinch the Republican nomination.

Beyond Tuesday, Mr. Trump will need to win just under 60 percent of the remaining 975 delegates in order to clinch the GOP nomination. With winner-take-all and winner-take-most states dominating the rest of the primary season, his path to the nomination is realistic but far from secure. In order to clinch the nomination and avoid ejection at a contested convention, Mr. Trump will need to string together victories in several of the upcoming winner-take-all and winner-take-most primaries and overcome his narrow appeal within the Republican electorate.

 

On the Democratic side

 After a shocking defeat in Michigan on March 8th, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton redeemed herself with a dominant performance in Tuesday’s Democratic primaries. She swept every state, taking Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio by comfortable margins and fending off fierce challenges from Senator Bernie Sanders in Missouri and Illinois. Though winning the nomination is still a statistical possibility for Mr. Sanders, his performance on Tuesday has made his practical path to the nomination impossibly narrow.

Unlike the Republican Party, which permits states to award delegates on a winner-take-all or a winner-take-most basis, the Democratic Party only allows its primaries to award delegates proportionally. This feature makes late comebacks difficult, since overcoming a large delegate deficit in proportional primaries requires not only victories but also wide margins of victory, like those which Mrs. Clinton has produced throughout the South. With Clinton now leading by over 300 pledged delegates and 400 superdelegates, Mr. Sanders will be hard-pressed to come up with the massive wins he will need in order to shift the balance of the Democratic race and overtake his opponent. Barring an extraordinary change in the state of the race—such as the indictment of Mrs. Clinton over her alleged mishandling of classified documents as secretary of state—Bernie Sanders will not be the Democratic Party’s nominee for president.

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Image Source: Flickr