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DELEGATE: Explainer

Delegates to anoint nominee-in-waiting

Long process precedes Bush nomination

(CNN) -- Having already built a deep campaign team and shattered fund-raising records, President Bush looks to officially earn a spot on the 2004 presidential ballot by accepting the Republican Party's nomination in New York City.

Barring an unprecedented turn of events, the GOP will anoint Bush during its national convention, August 30 through September 2, at Madison Square Garden.

Only after delegates vote for Bush -- and he accepts -- can he join Democratic nominee John Kerry as an official option for voters on November 2.

The moment has been months in the making. Adhering to decades of customs and rules, the GOP held local, district and state-level primaries, caucuses and meetings to select delegates who decide the party's nominee.

Delegates number 2,509 and alternates 2,344. California, the most populous state, has the largest delegation with 173 delegates and 170 alternates. Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands tie for being the smallest -- nine delegates and six alternates each.

Republicans hail the 2004 delegate class as the most diverse in the party's history.

Minorities make up 17 percent of total delegates, according to the GOP, compared to 39.1 percent of delegates to the Democratic national convention.

Of the Republicans, 297 will be Hispanic (up 15 percent from 2000), 290 will be African-American (up 65 percent) and 104 will be Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders.

Females make up 44 percent of the Republican delegate pool -- a record for the GOP, but short of the Democrats 50 percent.

Some 18 percent of the delegates will be veterans or military reservists (vs. 11.5 percent for the Democrats), according to the GOP.

The 2004 convention marks the first time Republicans have held their quadrennial soiree in New York City, a heavily Democratic city in a state Bush lost to Democratic nominee Al Gore by 25 percentage points in 2000.

Runaway winner

Bush's formal nomination has never been anything but a lock, even in the months before Republicans began the highly bureaucratic but hardly dramatic process of selecting delegates earlier this year.

Unlike his Democratic counterpart, Bush held every possible advantage in the "race" for his party's presidential nod.

The most obvious: Bush had no real competition.

His father, the country's 41st president, faced an in-house challenge from Pat Buchanan for when he sought nomination for a second term in 1992.

But no Republican stepped up against the younger Bush, giving him free rein to woo his party's supporters and their pocketbooks.

And while Democrats typically award delegates proportionately (divvying up delegates to multiple candidates based on vote percentage), most GOP primaries were winner-take-all -- another bonus for Bush, though his name was often the only one on a ballot.

President Bush has raised more than $227 million since May 16, 2003, when he filed his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission, a move that allowed him to start building his campaign structure and raise funds.

A lack of contested primaries allowed Bush to hoard most of that money for use this spring and summer against Kerry, his chief challenger.

After he is formally nominated by his party, Bush -- like Kerry -- will be limited to $75 million in public funding under federal campaign rules.

State-by-state basis

Each state's official GOP organization -- with the approval of the Republican National Committee -- had specific if varying guidelines to determine how delegates and in turn the party's 2004 nominee would be chosen.

Many GOP primaries and caucuses -- including those in Iowa and New Hampshire in January and in 10 states on March 2 -- were held on the same date and in some cases in the same locations as the corresponding Democratic races.

Yet Bush's dominance in GOP circles prompted numerous state parties to tweak their delegate selection plans.

Some state Republican parties avoided primaries and caucuses altogether, instead picking a full slate of delegates at county, district or state conventions.

Delaware, for example, held a Democratic presidential primary on February 3 but did not hold a GOP primary, the party instead choosing its delegates at the May 13 convention.

In several states such as Hawaii and Maine local caucuses were not held on one day. Instead, they were run exclusively (and sporadically) by local GOP organizations over several weeks.

Some delegates from states such as Alaska and Arizona can make up their own minds at the convention and vote for anyone.

But these unpledged delegates -- in the unlikely case they do not back Bush -- will be far outnumbered by those obligated and inclined to support the incumbent president.

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