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Politics & Government

How Wisconsin Doles Out Its GOP Presidential Delegates

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Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The Republican presidential candidates have been campaigning in some smaller communities across Wisconsin. For instance, Ted Cruz traveled to Altoona, while John Kasich visited West Salem.

The reason they’ve been fanning out is because most of Wisconsin's delegates will come from the state's eight Congressional districts.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin has 42 total delegates: 18 are statewide delegates, while 24 will come from the districts, according to UW-Madison Political Science Professor Barry Burden.

“Within each Congressional district, there are three delegates and whichever candidate wins most of the votes in that district gets all three of those, and then there are statewide delegates given to the statewide winner," Burden says.

Burden says the district-based allocation means the candidates must focus on all parts of the state, if they want to do extremely well.

When it comes to voting at the GOP convention this summer in Cleveland, Burden says the political parties in each state have their own rules governing their delegates. For instance, some states allow theirs to vote for whomever they want, after a second or third floor vote fails to producer a nominee.

Burden says the Wisconsin GOP rules might be considered stricter. They require delegates to stick with the candidate who won their district - or the statewide vote, if that is the voter block they represent.

There are two conditions under which the Wisconsin Republican delegates can change their votes at the nominating convention. One is if the candidate who won the district or state releases the delegates so they can vote for someone else, or the delegates can switch their votes - if the candidate they’re representing doesn’t receive a third of the votes cast on the convention floor.

The eventual nominee needs 1,237 votes. So far, Donald Trump has 736 delegates, Ted Cruz has 463 and John Kasich is at 143.

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