Which Media Outlet’s Republican Delegate Tracker Do You Believe?

Major media outlets cannot agree on any of the delegate counts for the top three GOP candidates, nor the allotment from 11 states that have voted thus far

rnclogo20With 20 Republican contests in the books – including Puerto Rico’s primary on Sunday – the number of delegates allocated to the four remaining candidates have now passed the one-third mark.

As such, there is an ever-increasing eye as to how many delegates have landed in Donald Trump’s column as he attempts to secure 1,237 by Cleveland.

But what is Trump’s actual count of pledged delegates? How many more delegates does he need to reach 1,237? And what is his current lead over Ted Cruz?

Don’t look to the media for clarity or consensus.

Smart Politics reviewed the Republican delegate tracker counts at five prominent news outlets (AP, CBS, CNN, NBC, FiveThirtyEight) and found that none are identical, with disagreements in 11 state contests and no outlets agreeing on the delegate count for any of the top three candidates.

[Note: Media delegate counts were reviewed by Smart Politics late Sunday evening].

For starters, many media outlets have identical delegate counts because they are simply using data provided by the same source: the Associated Press. As such the numbers for the following outlets are in unison because they are not conducting independent delegate counts: ABC News, Bloomberg, FOX News, Huffington Post, New York Times, National Public Radio, POLITICO, Time, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

However, the Associated Press, CBS, CNN, NBC, and FiveThirtyEight do not provide an external source for their delegate tallies and thus presumably are doing independent calculations.

None of these five outlets have identical counts and, more interestingly, none have the same count for any of the top three candidates – Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio.



NBC News allocates the largest number of delegates to Trump with 392 which puts him 845 delegates shy of a majority.

FiveThirtyEight gives the New York businessman 391 (846 from target), with CNN at 389 (848), AP at 382 (855), and CBS at just 374 (863).


NBC gives the Texas U.S. Senator 305 delegates with FiveThirtyEight at 304, CNN at 302, AP at 300, and CBS at 293.

Trump’s lead over Cruz thus ranges from a high of 87 delegates at CNN, FiveThirtyEight, and NBC (though with different ranges for each) to 82 at the Associated Press and 81 at CBS.


After Puerto Rico, NBC calculates the Florida U.S. Senator’s delegate count at 153 with the AP at 151, CNN at 149, FiveThirtyEight at 148, and CBS at 146.


Although he only has a few dozen delegates, only two outlets agree on the Ohio governor’s delegate count: the AP and NBC with 35. CNN awards Kasich 37 delegates with CBS at 34. [FiveThirtyEight does not profile Kasich’s delegates on its delegate count/target site].

Variation in the States

So where are all these different numbers coming from? In which states do media outlets diverge in their delegate counts?

To date, the top four candidates have the same delegate count in nine states and territories: Iowa, South Carolina, Alabama, Alaska, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Virginia, Maine, and Puerto Rico.


However, there is at least one discrepancy among the five outlets under analysis across the other 11 states with CBS having the most outliers:

  • New Hampshire: CBS gives Trump 10 delegates while the others give him 11; CBS gives Rubio three delegates with the others allotting him two.
  • Nevada: CBS does not give Kasich any delegates while the others give him one.
  • Arkansas: The AP and CBS give Cruz 14 delegates while the others award him 15.
  • Georgia: Trump receives 41 delegates from CBS and NBC, 43 from FiveThirtyEight, 42 from CNN, and 40 from the AP. CBS grants Cruz 16 delegates – two shy of the other outlets. Rubio wins 15 delegates according to CBS and FiveThirtyEight, 17 from NBC, 16 from CNN, and 14 from the AP.
  • Oklahoma: Three outlets award 13 delegates to Trump (AP, CNN, NBC) while CBS gives him 12 and FiveThirtyEight allots 14. Cruz receives 15 delegates from the AP and CNN, 19 from CBS, 18 from NBC, and 16 from FiveThirtyEight. Rubio receives 12 delegates from AP, CNN, NBC, 13 from FiveThirtyEight and just nine from CBS.
  • Tennessee: The AP and NBC give Trump two fewer delegates (31) than the other three outlets. The AP and FiveThirtyEight give Rubio one fewer delegate (nine) than the others.
  • Texas: Cruz is given 104 delegates from CNN and FiveThirtyEight with 103 from NBC, 102 from the AP, and 99 from CBS. CNN and FiveThirtyEight give Trump 48 delegates with 47 from the AP, 46 from NBC, and 41 from CBS. Rubio is granted three delegates from the AP, CNN, and FiveThirtyEight with five from NBC and four from CBS.
  • Vermont: The AP and CBS awarded six delegates each to Trump and Kasich with the others giving him eight.
  • Kansas: Cruz received 24 delegates from CBS (23 from the rest), Trump received 10 delegates from CBS (nine from the others), Rubio received five from CBS (six from the rest), and Kasich received two from CBS (one from the others except none from NBC)
  • Kentucky: CBS gives 16 delegates to Trump (17 from the rest) and 14 to Cruz (15 from the rest). Kasich receives seven delegates from the AP and CNN and six from CBS and NBC.
  • Louisiana: Three outlets allot 18 delegates to Trump (AP, CNN, FiveThirtyEight) while NBC gives 26 and CBS just 15. The AP also gives five delegates to Rubio while the others give none.


With four states voting in Republican primaries and caucuses on Tuesday (Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, and Mississippi), expect the delegate counts by the media outlets to differentiate themselves from one other even more by Wednesday morning.

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