In the eleven months before a Presidential election an insane amount of attention is paid to caucuses, primaries, and delegate counts. Keeping track of how many delegates are pledged to each candidate is a great deal more complicated than it appears. Four years ago I learned that different news outlets report different delegate counts. I built a table that keeps track of this and I'm replicating it this year. I promise only that I'll do my best to keep track.
But before we get to the table (that was not easy to build), we need to understand how delegates are chosen for the convention and the role they play. Simply put, each party holds a convention a few months before the election and nominate their candidates. Delegates fall into two categories: pledged and unpledged. We spend the primary season counting the number of pledged delegates, based on (sometimes pretty loosely) the results of how well each candidate does in the primary or caucus in each state. That's what I track.
But it's not that simple. Democrats invite unpledged delegates, sometimes called "superdelegates." They are guaranteed seats (and votes) in the convention by virtue of their place in the party. Some are senior members of the party, some are former Presidents, and some are current officeholders of congressional seats. There are 712 unpledged delegates and the current delegate count comes from these unpledged delegates who have announced their preference. But while these delegates may chose a candidate now, none of them are bound. Come time for the convention they can vote for whoever they want. This makes their preference now in doubt. That said, I can only score the delegates based on the information I have.
So why do they hold so much power? Good question. They are sometimes called the "ballast" to ensure the ship doesn't sway too far on either side and capsize. They are insurance to make sure that the party doesn't nominate someone too far afield as to be unelectable. They make certain that the Democrats nominate someone who can actually win.
The Republicans don't have as many but they do have 168 automatic delegates who are also senior members of the party.
Maybe I'm making too much of this but I'm hoping you'll follow this page as a guide toward the candidate each party will choose.
By the way, the New York Times are tracking only the pledged delegates, not the "superdelegates."
I'm open to feedback and if you think I'm wrong in what I post, please know you can let me know. You can email me
|Los Angeles Times|
|New York Times|
|Real Clear Politics|