If Marco Rubio Drops Out, Who Gets His Delegates?

If Marco Rubio drops out, who gets his delegates?

This question, the top query for Marco leading into Thursday night’s Republican presidential debates, doesn’t bode well for the Florida senator. As opposed to his major opposition Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, no one is asking how well Rubio would do stacked up against Hillary Clinton or whether or not he’ll be the eventual nominee.

Instead, many people watching Rubio in the four-man debate were just wondering when it would all be over. At this point, Marco is going to have to drop out one way or another, even though in the process of pushing to become the GOP’s pick, he’s racked up 151 delegates.

Marco Rubio drops out, where are the delegates going?
Marco Rubio may have a few delegates up his sleeve, but at least a few of them will shake over to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz when he drops out. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

As it turns out, the answer to what happens to Rubio’s delegates if he drops out is fairly complicated. On the Republican side of things, different states have different methods for determining what a candidate’s pledged supporters can do if their winner is longer an option. In some places, like Iowa where Marco equaled Donald with seven delegates to Ted’s eight, those votes will still be his unless the party converges on one candidate, explains the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

On the other hand, there are states like New Hampshire, where Rubio lost big to Trump, where all Rubio’s delegates can head somewhere else when he drops out. For one of Marco’s big wins, Minnesota, those delegates may also go elsewhere. However, for his 23-strong win in Puerto Rico and close second in Virginia, the story is more like Iowa’s — nobody will be able to lay a hand on what he’s already won.

Even with that in mind, Rubio’s humble delegate count isn’t making people wonder when he’s gong to drop out any less. Marco has significantly under half as many delegates as Ted Cruz at 359, and just under a third of what Donald Trump has amassed at 459. The reason for that determination essentially boils down to one word: Florida.

Rightfully so, it may seem. After all, if Rubio was able to make a steal in one state, it should be his home turf. Even better for Marco, nobody else would get a single one of his delegates. Florida is a winner-take-all state, and it’s worth 99 delegates — more than anywhere except massive population center California and conservative stronghold Texas, according to The Green Papers.

Unfortunately for Rubio, he’s probably going to have to drop out anyway. That one Sunshine-y State that seemed in his grasp is polling heavily for Donald. The majority of surveys released leading up to the Florida primary, scheduled for Tuesday, are putting Trump around 20 percent ahead of Marco; once the Republican frontrunner takes all 99 of those delegates, he may be unstoppable.

Marco Rubio drops out for delegates which way
Donald Trump's massive lead in Florida polls make it seem like Marco Rubio should just drop out now instead of potentially stacking up more delegates who will be bound to him for no reason. [Image via Real Clear Politics]

A column from USA Today political columnist Joanna Allhands reached a similar conclusion. Rubio is simply biding his time to dropping out, and he’s sopped up delegates they have helped Ted gain traction in the process.

“Even if they do win, neither [Marco] nor Kasich will have enough delegates to immediately catch Trump or the dark horse in all of this, Cruz. It also would be impossible for Kasich and improbable for Rubio to secure the 1,237 delegates necessary to lock up the nomination. Realistically, the only way either could move on to November is via a brokered convention, which most likely would tear the party in two. That’s why the media is freaking out about all of this.”

If Marco Rubio does end up dropping out, do you think who gets his states’ delegates is fair?

[Image via Spencer Platt/Getty Images]