- Lucas Jackson/REUTERS
Donald Trump had a huge night on Tuesday, picking up at least 110 delegates – more than 93% of those at stake – in the five Northeastern and mid-Atlantic Republican presidential primaries.
What might have flown under the radar, however, was his performance with Pennsylvania’s unbound delegation.
And that performance – he appeared to secure more than 40 unbound delegates – could put him over the edge in securing the Republican nomination.
Pennsylvania will send 54 unbound, or “free agent,” delegates to the Republican National Convention in July. They are free to vote as they wish on the first ballot and each subsequent ballot at the convention.
On Tuesday night, three such delegates were elected in each of Pennyslvania’s 18 congressional districts.
Many of the aspiring delegates entered Tuesday’s voting having pledged to vote for Trump or his main GOP rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, while others pledged to vote the way their congressional district did. Some remained uncommitted heading into Tuesday’s vote. Unbound delegates are not tied down by any prior pledge, however, and can change their minds in the months leading up to the convention.
MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki projected last week that for Trump to secure the nomination on the first ballot, 62% of Pennsylvania’s unbound delegates would need to vote for him.
Per Tuesday night’s results, Trump is poised to earn far more than that.
At least 24 delegates who pledged allegiance to Trump were elected, in addition to 18 delegates who pledged to support the winner of their congressional district. The Manhattan billionaire won every district in the state.
Nine uncommitted delegates were also elected. Those delegates could later decide to align with Trump. Just three delegates who pledged to vote for Cruz were voted in.
As long as these delegates keep their commitment, Trump is on track to pick up at least 42 of Pennsylvania’s 54 unbound delegates.
“We had a great, you know, a great victory there in Pennsylvania,” Trump said Wednesday morning on CNN.
“But we also signed a lot of delegates,” he added. “They’re actually signed. We had the whole signing card thing going, and we picked up many of those delegates, most of those delegates, so that we have them as opposed to waiting around to convention, and others are to come.”