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Delegate (American politics)
A delegate is a person selected to represent a group of people in some political assembly of the United States.

There are various types of delegates elected to different political bodies. In the United States Congress delegates are elected to represent the interests of a United States territory and its citizens or nationals. In addition, certain US states are governed by a House of Delegates or other parliamentary assembly whose members are known as elected delegates.

Prior to a United States presidential election, the major political parties select delegates from the various state parties for a presidential nominating convention, often by either primary elections or party caucuses.

Pledged delegates are elected or chosen at the state or local level, with the understanding that they will support a particular candidate at the convention. Pledged delegates are, however, not actually bound to vote for that candidate, thus the candidates are allowed to periodically review the list of delegates and eliminate any of those they feel would not be supportive. Currently there are 4,051 pledged delegates.

The Democratic Party uses a proportional representation to determine how many delegates each candidate is awarded in each state. For example, a candidate who wins 40% of a state's vote in the primary election will win 40% of that state's delegates. However, a candidate must win at least 15% of the primary vote in order to receive any delegates. There is no process to win superdelegates, since they can vote for whomever they please. A candidate needs to win a simple majority of total delegates to earn the Democratic nomination.

The Republican Party, however, has established few unpledged delegates. The only people who get unpledged status are each state's three Republican National Committee members. This means that unpledged delegates are only 168 of the total number of delegates. However, unpledged delegates do not have the freedom to vote for whichever candidate they please. The RNC ruled in 2015 that the unpledged delegates must vote for the candidate that their state voted for; the unpledged RNC members will be bound in the same manner as the state’s at-large delegates, unless the state elects their delegates on the primary ballot, then all three RNC members will be allocated to the statewide winner.

The process by which delegates are awarded to a candidate will vary from state to state. Many states use a winner-take-all system, where popular vote determines the winning candidate for that state. However, beginning in 2012 many states now use proportional representation. While the Republican National Committee does not require a 15% minimum threshold, individual state parties may impart such a threshold.