What Will Happen To Ted Cruz's Delegates? The Texas Senator Dropped Out Of The Race After Indiana

On Tuesday, Ted Cruz dropped out of the Republican race for president following a damaging loss in Indiana's GOP primary. He lagged noticeably far behind frontrunner Donald Trump in the GOP delegate count, but what happens to the delegates that Cruz did win? That depends on your perspective.

Throughout his campaign, Cruz accumulated at least 546 pledged delegates, according to The New York Times. That total was just over half of what Trump accumulated in the same amount of time, giving Cruz just a narrow path to victory. On Tuesday, Cruz noted that the loss in Indiana meant he no longer had a viable path to that victory.

From the beginning, I've said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory. Tonight, I'm sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed. ... We gave it everything we've got, but the voters chose another path.

The question about the fate of Cruz's delegates could ultimately come down to a technicality. "And so with a heavy heart, but with boundless optimism for the long-term future of the nation, we are suspending our campaign," Cruz announced Tuesday. It's the operative word — "suspending" — that could make the difference.

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Many candidates who have left the race long before Cruz have used the word "suspending," rather than "dropping out," "quitting," or some other variation. It's a subtle difference and most likely a symbolic decision, but the word choice could suggest that candidates, including Cruz, aren't necessarily closing out their tabs with the Federal Election Commission. In many GOP races, delegates are bound to the candidates they are allocated to, meaning that the majority of Cruz's delegates will probably still have to attend their party's convention and support Cruz in a first-round vote. If a candidate symbolically ends his or her campaign, but doesn't actually close up shop in official terms, then he or she can technically still earn votes should a contested convention roll around. Should that situation emerge at the GOP's nominating convention in July, Cruz's delegates could end up sticking by him during a second-round vote.

If you're a Cruz supporter, though, the above is probably just the positive explanation that you give yourself for his announcement on Tuesday. At this point in the primary cycle, it seems much more likely that Cruz's campaign suspension will pave the way for Trump to earn the minimum 1,237 delegates he needs in order to secure the nomination before the convention. What's more, some states allow delegates of suspended candidates to realign with a different candidate altogether.

Should any of Cruz's delegates fall in line with the voters' overwhelming consensus at the polls, Trump could see even more of a boost in his delegate count.