Recently, the media has been speculating whether Newt Gingrich will drop out of the race to help Rick Santorum. But what happens to his delegates if he does?
Basically, they become free to vote for whichever candidate they choose — or most of them do at least.
The rules governing delegates’ voting options vary by state, and so far, Gingrich has won bound delegates in eight states: South Carolina, Nevada, Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama. In Nevada, Alaska, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Mississippi, delegates are bound unless released by their candidate.
In South Carolina and Alabama, however, Gingrich’s delegates still would be required to vote for him on the first ballot, even if he dropped out. And in none of these states can Gingrich force his delegates to vote for another candidate; he can only encourage them to do so.