Mayhaps I'm not the only one having a demon of a time trying to figure out this Democrat/Republican/primary/caucus/delegate/superdelegate thing.
Some state primaries, such as ours here in Ohio, are fairly straightforward and easy enough to understand: on the Republican side, whoever gets the most votes gets all the Convention delegates and on the Democrat side the delegates are divided among the candidates proportional to the votes received.
In places like Iowa, on the other hand, they pick a night to duke it out for delegates in school gymnasiums and church halls, and then there's places like Colorado, where they pick their convention delegates by some arcane process by the light of the moon and a puppy dog's tail. (There's no sense even trying to figure out what goes on in Colorado).
And then there's the Pennsylvania Republican primary, which is being played out even you read this (provided you're reading this on Tuesday, April 26 before 8 pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time), which can only be understood by persons possessing at least 2 1/2 college degrees, one of them in Political Science.
Anyway, the way the Pennsylvania Republican primary works, as I understand it, - not that I can understand why anybody would do it this way, but oh well - is that Pennsylvania will send 71 voting delegates to the Republican National Convention to vote for a presidential candidate. Of these 71 delegates from Pennsylvania, 17 will be committed to voting for whoever received the most votes in the primary election.* But the other 54 delegates, whom Pennsylvanians vote for along with their choice for presidential candidate,
Anyway, Pennsylvania has 18 congressional districts, each of which will today elect 3 vote-for-whoever-they-want delegates from a slate of 162 people running for the 54 slots.
Got it so far?
So, in short, today in Pennsylvania if you are a voting Republican, you are voting: 1) for your choice for presidential nomination and, 2) for three delegates who will vote at the Republican Convention, hopefully for the same candidate as you voted for today.
Which begs the question: How do you know that the delegate you're voting for will vote for your man at the Convention?
Well, in truth, you don't. As one Pennsylvanian who planned to vote for John Kasich told The New York Times, "If I want a delegate who's going to vote for John Kasich, then how would I know?"
Apparently one could have researched the positions of each of the delegates running in one's district to find out which candidate each is committed to, if one had the time and devotion to do so; and then one would have to trust that the delegate one voted for would remain true to their word by the time the Convention rolls around.
Fellow Buckeyes of the Republican persuasion: does it not make you feel happy, at least once every four years, to be from Ohio? ;)
1. "GOP Delegate Job Is Out Of Obscurity", by Jeremy W. Peters and Trip Gabriel, The New York Times, Friday, April 22, 2016.