What happens to the 26 delegates pledged to Edwards?

According to CNN, John Edwards has 26 pledged delegates:

What happens to those 26? Do they get re-assigned? If so, how? If not, why not?

Couldn’t find this addressed in any of the previous threads.


I believe that those 26 are now free to vote for whomever they choose since Edwards has freed them by dropping out of the race…

Well, he said he was “suspending” his campaign, and didn’t endorse anyone, so maybe he’s waiting to see what happens.

Even if Edwards endorses somebody, they don’t have to follow his instructions, though they probably will. Basically, they are free to vote for whomever they like, as stated.


Slate recycled an old article about Wesley Clark’s delegates in 2004, by way of explanation. This is where I got an erroneous count of 61 (counting superdelegates) for Edwards in another thread:

As Edwards has not officially ended his campaign, they are still bound to vote for him on the first ballot. (In some states, this is a legal requirement, and the Attorney General could prosecute them if they didn’t. But I’ve never heard of that happening.)

But in practice, nobody will get very upset if they switch to someone else. Especially if a winner becomes clear before the Convention – it’s common for them to all switch when that happens.

At the moment, most of them are not committing to someone else. Those votes (and any Edwards may win in the future) may make him a kingmaker at the Convention, if it is still a close race.

Or if either Clinton or Obama selects Edwards as VP or offers him a Cabinet position, he could ask those 26 delegates to switch to that candidate. (But as yabob said, they don’t have to do what he asks.)

Edwards has been credited with 14 delegates won in Iowa, 4 in New Hampshire, and 8 in South Carolina. However, as of today, only two of those slots are held by named individuals with tickets punched for Denver. The two lucky winners are Joshua Denton and Deborah Bacon-Nelson, elected as district-level Edwards delegates from New Hampshire. They may switch to Clinton or Obama at any time, for any reason, between now and the National Convention, or they may vote for Edwards on the first ballot.

Of the remainder–

The Iowa delegates will almost certainly melt away after next month’s county conventions, at which time the Edwards delegates elected at the January 3 precinct caucuses will be free to switch to another candidate. They don’t have to if they don’t want to, but I’m sure they will be lobbied heavily by Clinton and Obama supporters and there would seem to be little purpose in voting for a moribund candidate. Even if some Edwards delegates continue to vote for him, he may fall below the “viability threshold” in some (all?) counties which would force his delegates to either switch or abstain.

Individuals will be named to fill the SC delegate slots at the SC state convention in early April. My understanding is that as long as Edwards “suspends his campaign” instead of withdrawing he is entitled to fill those slots–if his campaign wants to. If they don’t, those delegates will be re-allocated to Clinton and Obama based on the SC primary results.

Likewise with the two statewide slots in NH, to be filled at the NH state convention on April 26.