Where Delegates Go If Their Candidate Drops Out

by Melissa Cruz

With the GOP candidates seeming to drop like flies as we get closer and closer to the party nomination, the support they had garnered on the campaign trail has to fall somewhere else. This brings up the question regarding what will happen to a candidate's delegates if they drop out of the race. Do the delegates disappear? Do they shift over to another candidate? Or do they go back into the overall pool of delegates? This will be even more important in the case of Super Tuesday, as candidates often exit the race when they fail to collect a sizable amount of delegates.

Thus far the Republican party has had multiple contenders drop out, including candidates Jeb Bush and Chris Christie most recently. While Christie had no delegates to offer up, Bush had a total of four. (It is worth noting, however, that Christie's email list of supporters and donors was sold to Marco Rubio's campaign, so Rubio may still benefit from Christie's exit from the race. Donald Trump may as well, since Christie also recently endorsed him.) Though Bush's delegates aren't exactly a great win, they could be enough to bump a candidate from second to third place, like in case of Rubio or Ted Cruz.

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As far as Bush's four delegates go, there are a couple of options for what can be done with them. The delegates can move into the national convention uncommitted, as is the case with superdelegates. In short, they can then cast their vote for whomever they want. And since they would be entering the convention uncommitted, it becomes easier for the GOP to appear unanimous in their nomination of a candidate, as the newly uncommitted delegates will often go with the most popular contender.

The delegates can also wait to see if Bush endorses someone. Had Christie had any delegates, they more than likely would have gone to Trump after his endorsement of the GOP front-runner. Likewise if the former Florida governor chooses to back a candidate, his four delegates may choose to fold into that candidate's delegate pool.

With Super Tuesday drawing to a close, it also appears that candidates Ben Carson and John Kasich will probably stick with their five and six delegates respectively. If they follow the trend of their opponents before them, it looks like these delegates will soon be up for grabs too.

And while the race to the nomination is far from over, Super Tuesday will certainly weigh the delegate count in some candidates' favor. If any drop out, that favor will only go up.

Image: Caroline Wurtzel/Bustle