Unbound Delegates Steal the Day

Candidates court select power players who can make or break them at the convention

After Sen. Ted Cruz’s decisive victory in Wisconsin on Tuesday, talk of a contested convention is ramping up and pandemonium is in full swing as the GOP presidential hopefuls rush to corral delegates in individual states — specifically those that have unbound delegates.

Unbound delegates are people who will show up to the Republican National Committee’s Convention in Cleveland in July completely uncommitted to any candidate. Specifically, the states of Colorado, North Dakota and Wyoming who have chosen to not hold nominating contests this year — meaning they will select their delegates at their state convention. In addition, the territories of American Samoa, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands hold no primaries or caucuses and send unbound delegates to the convention.

In total, there are some 163 delegates who will arrive at the convention in July completely unbound to a candidate, plus the delegates of candidates who have dropped out of the race. As of today, Rubio had 169 delegates that would be unbound, Carson had 8, and Bush had 4 — meaning there’s room for courting by the campaigns.

[lz_table title=”Unbound Delegates”]Colorado
37 delegates
|North Dakota
25 delegates
29 delegates
54 delegates
6 delegates
|American Samoa
6 delegates
|U.S. Virgin Islands
6 delegates

The candidate who has the best ground operation will be the one who is the beneficiary of the unbound delegate support.

On Sunday, the North Dakota Republican Party held its state convention where 18 Cruz supporters were selected to fill 25 of the delegate slots — a big win for the Texas senator, who will need their support on the first ballot. The state of Colorado is the next up to hold its state convention, and the Cruz, Trump and Kasich campaigns will set their sights on getting their supporters elected to the 37 available delegates slots.

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[lz_table title=”GOP Delegate Count”]Donald Trump
743 delegates
|Ted Cruz
517 delegates
|John Kasich
143 delegates
|Total Delegates Needed:

Wyoming is next up after Colorado and will hold its state convention from April 14-16. Cruz confirmed on Wednesday that he will speak at the Cowboy State’s convention on April 16. Gov. Sarah Palin will stump for Trump and Idaho Gov. Butch Otter will speak on behalf of Kasich. Wyoming holds 29 delegates and 14 of them will be elected at the convention. Twelve of the delegates have already been selected at county conventions — nine of which are Cruz supporters. The remaining three delegates slots automatically go to members of the state GOP.

[lz_third_party includes=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qO1hBFTYYwE”]

Republicans selected to represent Wyoming at the national convention have to fill out a form asking which presidential candidate they support. According to the Wall Street Journal, if they list a candidate, they must vote for that person on first ballot but if they leave it blank, they go unbound and are free agents.

[lz_table title=”Delegates Pledged to Candidates No Longer in Race”]Marco Rubio
169 delegates
|Ben Carson
8 delegates
|Jeb Bush
4 delegates

Some pundits argue that even though Rubio has stated he will keep his delegates, Cruz should make a serious play for them so he will have their support on the first ballot of the convention. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News’ digital politics editor, argued on the “Kelly File” Tuesday night that Cruz needs to beg Rubio for his delegates in order to win on a first ballot. “To get as many first ballot votes as he can from unbound delegates and beg, beg, beg, beg, beg Marco Rubio, ‘Come on go ahead and release your delegates, let me do this,’ so he can take it over the top right from the start,” Stirewalt said.

The key for both Trump and Cruz is to win on the first ballot, and the way to do that is to win over each individual delegate vote until the magic number of 1,237 is reached. But if no candidate reaches that goal or a win at a first ballot vote, the delegates are unbound — and chaos will take over.

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