This of course only matters if after the primaries no one has an outright majority.
There has been talk on podcasts I’ve been listening to about the fact that delegates are bound only on the first ballot, and most of them are not actually hard-core supporters of the candidate they are bound to, but just Republican stalwarts in their state who are being rewarded by the party with a nice trip to the national convention. Their speculation is that since they are only bound to their particular candidate on the first ballot, the second ballot could go very “establishment” even if the majority of delegates are pledged to non-establishment candidates.
But of course the delegate counts will be known well before the convention is gaveled into order. What I’m wondering is if candidates control their bound slates of delegates on the first ballot. Could a coalition of candidates make a deal to combine forces and compel their delegates to go along with the plan? The most obvious scenario, which seems like it would be the least controversial, is for the top two to agree to run as a ticket with the leading delegate winner at the top and the other one as running mate. This would still forestall some kind of weirdness like Romney or Ryan swooping in and grabbing the nom on the second ballot.
But what if number two conspires with three and four, and two and three run as a ticket, with four being promised Secretary of State? Maybe Trump has 40% of the delegates, Cruz has 25%, Rubio has 20%, and Kasich has 7%. Can those latter three conspire to muscle Trump out on the first ballot? Or does everyone just have to vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged on the first ballot, and then vote as they like afterward?