For those confused by talk of the GOP’s “superdelegates,” the Associated Press offers a good primer:
Every state plus the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories gets three members on the Republican National Committee. All of them are automatically invited to attend the party’s national convention in Tampa, Fla., in August, with a few exceptions.
The RNC members from New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Michigan and Arizona are excluded, for now, as part of the penalties they received for holding primaries earlier than party rules allowed.
In many states, RNC members must support the winner of primaries or caucuses in their states. The AP identified 39 states and territories in which the RNC members will be free to support any candidate they choose, though the number could shrink slightly if any of the territories vote to bind all of their delegates.
That’s a total of 117 RNC delegates who will essentially be free agents at the convention.
These RNC delegates will make up a little more than 5 percent of the 2,286 delegates at the national convention, but they could be crucial to putting Romney over the top or blocking him.
The AP polled 106 of the 117 “superdelegates” and found that 23 of them supported Romney. Four backed Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum and Ron Paul had two each.