As April begins to turn into May, delegate counts become key. This site has typically used the count at www.thegreenpapers.com as a good count — mostly because the Green Papers shows its work — exactly how it calculates the delegate counts. Actually, the Green Papers has four separate counts. What those different counts mean for the next two months is the main focus of this post. To explain the terminology that the Green Papers uses, the Green Papers distinguishes between hard counts and soft counts. The hard count is the actual number of delegates actually won to date. The soft count has three components — the soft pledged count, the soft unpledged count, and the soft total. These components have slightly different meanings for the two parties given the difference in the rules of the two parties. This post looks in a general sense at what these counts mean — primarily looking at the delegates from the states that have already voted — for the Republicans.
For the Republican Party, because delegates are bound by either the initial presidential preference vote or the delegate’s pledge when they ran for delegate (in certain caucus states, Illinois, and West Virginia), the hard count and the soft pledged count is, for the most part, the same for all of the candidates and differs only for uncommitted. Soft unpledged (for the most part) represents officially uncommitted delegates who have announced their non-binding support for a candidate. Additionally, for Colorado and Wyoming, the Green Papers treats the automatic delegates as “available” but for American Samoa, Guam, North Dakota, and the Virgin Islands, the Green Papers treat these delegates as uncommitted. The actual status appears to be the same for both sets of automatic delegates — because there was no preference vote, these delegates are not bound to support any of the candidates.
For the Republican Party, all that truly matters for now is the hard count. Including the automatic delegates from Colorado and Wyoming and the 54 district-level delegates from Pennsylvania, there will be 124 unbound delegates available on June 8 (128 if the original delegation from the Virgin Islands is seated by the Convention). Of those 124 delegates, 18 will be the party leaders (party chair and RNC members) from the three states and three territories that did not hold a preference vote. The other 106 or 110 will be the individual elected as uncommitted delegates in Colorado (4), American Samoa (6), Guam (6), North Dakota (25), Virgin Islands (2 or 6), Wyoming (1), Louisiana (5), Oklahoma (3), and Pennsylvania (54). In addition to the uncommitted delegates, there are the delegates won by the other candidates. As discussed last month, as best as can be determined, sixty-nine of these delegates are effectively unbound and another 44 could be released by the candidate to whom they are bound. Presumably Ben Carson will release his nine delegates, but the other 35 might be kept bound if the remaining candidates are firmly opposed to Trump. (Given the binding rules, it is hard to see how any candidate other than Trump could win on the first ballot. If it gets to the second ballot, everything is up in the air.) The key for unbound delegates is that tentative pledges by these delegates (including guesses as to which way these delegates are believed to be leaning) are not binding or set in stone. Depending upon how the rest of the campaign goes, they are free to change their mind.