How Many GOP Delegates Does Nebraska Have? They're More Important Than Usual

Nebraska, along with West Virginia, will hold its Republican primary on Tuesday. The state's winner-take-all delegate allocation means that one candidate will walk away with everything the state has to offer. How many Republican delegates does Nebraska have, and where can we expect them to go?

Nebraska has 36 delegates up for grabs, and who is most likely to get them seems like a pretty easy question to answer, since Donald Trump is the only candidate remaining in the Republican race. Nebraska was believed to be good territory for Cruz. As The Wall Street Journal reported, the senator won in several nearby states, independents can't vote in the state's primary, and Republican officials there have expressed hostility toward Trump. But after Cruz unexpectedly suspended his campaign following a disappointing loss in Indiana, it's doubtful whether people will vote for someone not even officially running. It is a possibility, though; Cruz will still be on the ballot, as will Gov. John Kasich.

Nebraska was one of the remaining states the "Stop Trump" movement was banking on to keep just enough delegates away from Trump to deny him an automatic nomination, which requires 1,237 of them. And he still needs that number, even though he's the last man standing. Trump was on a pretty likely path to securing it before Cruz and Kasich exited the race. Now it's almost certain.

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Trump is heading into Tuesday with 1,014 delegates. That means he needs 223 to clinch the nomination, and there are 445 pledged delegates remaining to be won in upcoming Republican primaries. And even in the unlikely scenario that Trump doesn't get the 223 he needs, it's also unlikely that unbound delegates at the Republican National Convention wouldn't tip him over the edge for the nomination; the amount of ire they would provoke from the voting public by refusing to do so would likely deter them from casting ballots for someone else.

So 36 delegates may not sound like a ton, but with so few needed by Trump to secure the Republican nomination, they'll matter quite a bit. He'll likely do well in West Virginia on Tuesday, too, as he was polling over 30 points above Cruz and Kasich there. Note that in West Virginia, voters will actually be electing Republican delegates to the convention; the delegates must declare whom they'll support on the ballot, or run as uncommitted. West Virginia has 34 delegates at stake.

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The 2016 primary election season has been defying predictions left and right. In a race full of surprises, every contest counts. And Nebraska's 36 delegates are more important than usual.