Each of the Republican presidential candidates are looking to a potential delegate boost on Tuesday, thanks to Pennsylvania’s unique delegate allocation rules.
Pennsylvania will send seventy-one delegates to the Republican National Convention, however only seventeen of the delegates will be bound come July. The other fifty-four will be unbound, free to choose whomever they want. Each of Pennsylvania’s eighteen congressional districts sends three delegates.
The seventeen delegates will be awarded to the state winner. Polls show Trump with a double-digit lead in the commonwealth.
The large number of unbound delegates could be critical for Donald Trump, Senator Ted Cruz, and Governor John Kasich as they seek to win the nomination. The number could be enough to push Trump to the nomination or enough to deny him it on the first ballot.
In Pennsylvania, there are effectively two campaigns. One for the statewide winner and then another for the delegates. The delegates are elected by voters in the primary, so a Cruz supporter could hypothetically be elected in a Trump-strong district.
Many of the running delegates have pledged to support the winner of the district, according to the Morning Call.
Cruz and Trump both have slates of supported delegates in the state. Trump has been tweeting out lists of the delegates while Cruz’s campaign has been assisting his supporters. Kasich has been working to convince the potential delegates directly, arguing that they are truly the ones with the power.
Trump and Kasich have both been personally courting the delegates and commentators have wondered if gifts will eventually enter the scene with unbound delegates. It would not be illegal to donate or give gifts to a delegate in exchange for a vote. Cruz, for his part, has ruled out gifts, saying about his discussions with potential Pennsylvanian delegates, “We didn’t even give them a glass of water.”