Delegates Are Different for Democrat and Republican Candidates

Delegates Are Different for Democrat and Republican Candidates


There are different numbers of delegates for the Democrats and the Republicans and the required number needed for nomination is not the same. Democrats have superdelegates while Republicans do not. Republicans have winner-take-all states, however, Democrats do not. Why are the requirements different for Democrat and Republican candidates to get on the ballot?

The number of Democrat and Republican representatives varies in each state due to the number of elected officials for each party. A state that has more elected Republicans will have more delegates to offer those presidential candidates. This also causes alterations in the number of representatives allotted for each presidential election.

The 2016 presidential election is different beyond the number of allocated representatives available. The election year began with a large number of Republican candidates, thinning out the number each candidate could garner, even further. This could make the Republican road to the White House more difficult, as a candidate must receive over 1,200 delegates to be nominated at the Republican National Convention (RNC). Candidates are using their votes to garner delegates in 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories between February 1 and June 7.

Each state has its own rules, which determine if the representatives are required to vote for the candidate the people chose, or if the votes only represent a suggestion for them to take into consideration. These differences are referred to as binding and non-binding primaries or caucuses.

Each state begins with 10 pledged and three additional delegates for every congressional district. Every state and U.S. territory awards bonus pledged delegates (for the dominating political party), depending on if there is a Republican governor, the Republican majority in one or both chambers of the state legislature, and in states and territories that have a party majority in Congress. Therefore, the more Republican elected officials a state has then there are more Republican representatives to be awarded to the candidate who wins that particular state. This is a simple explanation as to why the number of delegates differs for the Democrat and Republican candidates.


The 17 Republican candidates are the largest number of presidential bids for the White House, in American history. For a candidate to be on the ballot, they must garner 1,237 delegates to be eligible for the nomination to the RNC. According to Rule 40, in the RNC rule book, the nominee must have the majority of the delegations in a minimum of eight states to be represented at the RNC.

The 2016 Republican National Convention will be July 18-21. This will be the shortest Republican season since 1948. The 2012 Republican National Convention was August 27-30. This has been the most open and diverse Republican primary contest in U.S. history.

No state was allowed to hold a caucus or primary in January 2016. In February, only New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina were allowed to vote. States that voted in the beginning of March were to award delegates in a proportional manner. If any state violated these rules, the number of delegates they had to offer would be severely cut.

Each state chooses to allocate or unallocated their Republican delegates when the primaries and caucuses begin. There are systems of allocation: winner-take-all, the candidate with the most votes is awarded all of the state’s delegates; winner-take-most, awarded according to the number of votes per candidate. This form of allocation has a different set of rules, so only the leading candidates receive delegates, and if a candidate receives over 50 percent of the votes, they are awarded all of the state’s delegates. Proportional allocation awards representatives according to the popular vote, and with direct election, the voters choose which candidate will be allotted a number of representatives. These representatives may announce which candidate they prefer, or they can choose to be uncommitted. There are 1,719 pledged Republican delegates.

Donald Trump has won 12 states, as of March 7, and 391 delegates. Ted Cruz has taken six states and 304 delegates. Marco Rubio won one state and one territory with 154 delegates, and although John Kasich has not yet won any states, he has 37 delegates.

How Are the Number of Delegates Determined?

Delegates are determined by the population of each state, the number of elected officials of each party, and other factors depending on the party affiliation of the candidate. 2,472 delegates will attend the RNC and candidates need 1,236 for the nomination. Alternates, who vote in the absence of a delegate are selected as well.

Each state starts with 10 Republican and 10 Democratic representatives. For example, New Jersey elected Republican, Chris Christie for governor, so they gain two more delegates. Three more representatives include the state Republican chair, the national committeeman, and committeewoman. Each state receives an additional three for each Republican congressional district, equaling 36 Republican delegates to represent New Jersey.

Democratic Delegates

There will be 4,763 delegates sent to the Democratic National Convention (DNC), and a candidate must have 2,382 to be a nominee. Many of the Democratic representatives are also determined by population. Democrats do not have any winner-take-all states, and a candidate must have a minimum of 15 percent of the votes to gain any delegates.

Chosen last are the at-large delegates, which are used to be sure there are an equal number of men and women at the DNC. Included in these representatives are legislative leaders, mayors of large cities, and other elected Democrats. They maintain 15 reserved slots overall.

Democrats have superdelegates per state, a title given to current and former elected officials. They are not required to back the candidate that has won the state by popular vote. For example, New Jersey’s super-representatives include Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, all six New Jersey House Democrats, and six Democratic National Committee members for a total of 16. Although unpledged, there are those who have already endorsed their candidate of choice.

Pledged representatives are elected officials at the state level and are expected to vote for a specified candidate at the DNC, which will be July 25-28. There are 4,050 pledged delegates and 794 superdelegates for a total of 4,763 representatives.

Superdelegates are generally members of Congress, former presidents, governors, and other Democratic leaders. These representatives are not required to indicate their preferred candidate. Therefore, there is not a way to “win” them, as they are invited to vote their preference.

Hillary Clinton has garnered 1,130 of the available representatives, and Bernie Sanders has the support of 499 delegates. However, the Democrats have more representatives available and fewer candidates to receive votes to gain those necessary for the nomination to be on the ballot.

This is why there are a different number of delegates available to Republicans and Democrats. Therefore, each party has a different required number of representatives for nomination for the candidate’s convention.

By Jeanette Smith
Edited by Cathy Milne


NJ: Everything you need to know how Republican and Democratic delegates work
CNN: 2016 election center
270 to Win: 2016 Republican Presidential Nomination

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