The delegate process is one that can be quite confusing. The main stream media would have us believe it's pretty clear, cut and dried and that the winner of each states gets the most delegates.

Well, after this year it still won't be completely clear and certainly far from easy to understand. The GOP candidate that receives 1,144 delegates will win the party's nomination. However, that is not based on how many states he takes.

There are some states that are “winner take all.” This simply means that if a candidate gets better than 50% of the vote, he wins all the delegates, but if not then they are given out proportionately.

What is interesting in this contest we are seeing in the GOP run is that all four of the candidates, in essence, need each other to keep any one candidate from obtaining that better than 50% vote in winner take all states. If one candidate drops out then the chances that one of the others will take over that percentage of votes increases.

Ultimately this works towards a brokered convention, because from this perspective it would mean that it is quite possible that no one candidate will actually obtain the 1.144 delegates to be the party's nominee.

There are then the bound and unbound delegates. The bound delegates to the convention are those who are bound to vote for the candidate who they are tied to via their states in the first vote, but if it is undecided, they can vote for whomever they choose in remaining votes.

The unbound delegates totally around 13% nation wide. This is a significant number should there be a brokered convention. The entire Maine caucus is unbound, so when the media tells us that there are 11 for Romney and 10 for Ron Paul, you have to take that with a grain of salt.

In 30 states, the chairman, vice-chairman, and treasurer are given unbound delegate status.

The delegation process won't be finalized for a couple more months. The reason being is that the national delegates are voted on by state delegates and state delegates are voted on by district delegates. Get the picture?

There is plenty of time for things to really surprise people.

What I find most curious in the whole business is how the media, looking for news, posts all sorts of completely inconsistent delegate numbers from these primaries.

CNN today is reporting the following:
Newt Gingrich – 35
Ron Paul – 27
Mitt Romney – 144
Rick Santorum – 44

The Washington Post & the Wall Street Journal totals:
Newt Gingrich – 32
Ron Paul – 19
Mitt Romney – 163
Rick Santorum – 83

How the numbers can be off this much is beyond me. Of course the Post and the WSJ are both using AP delegate counter numbers so they are at least consistent with each other.

I found it interesting that the Paul campaign has a very different take on things. In an article posted February 21 they had the scores of Romney with 93 delegates and Paul at 92. We are well aware that Paul has come out in the open and said that delegates are the way to win the nomination and his campaign has worked hard at that. I think the only way they will know is when the delegates have been sent.

I think probably the more fair and consistent delegate counter I've found is here. It tries to lay out the pledged and unpledged from each state so you can see what someone actually has versus what they don't actually have.....yet.

Again, though, at this point it is all up in the air and among 4 contenders, it will definitely make this year's convention a nail biter.

The candidates now have their sights set on Washington State on the 3rd and then Super Tuesday, which will see voting in the following states:

Alaska
Georgia
Idaho
Massachusetts
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Vermont
Virginia

Updated 5:00pm - CNN projects delegates:

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