There are 59 delegates up for grabs today.

xuliang

Senior Member
Chinese Mandarin
I came across the article below from CNN. I have a question about "up for grabs". I looked up dictionaries and have found its meanings "available for anyone to take, use or buy" and "available for anyone willing to expend the energy to get it". For both of these two meanings, the noun that is grabbed precedes "up for grabs" in the sentence.


"Jumping now to the presidential campaign trail, it`s been a few weeks since the last Republican contest. But two states are taking over the political spotlight today, and those two states are Arizona and Michigan. Voters are heading to the polls there, casting their ballots for Republican presidential candidates.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Senator Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and U.S. Representative Ron Paul -- they`re trying to win delegates in these primaries and caucuses. Win enough, and you get the party`s nomination for president. There are 59 delegates up for grabs today in Arizona and Michigan."



My question is: does the sentence above with bold part mean
1. people are grabbing to be a delegate, and there are 59 delegates available for people to grab?


Or does it mean

2. 59 delegates are grabbing for the party's nomination? (from the context, I think this meaning is correct.)


If it's the latter meaning, it's not quite right according to dictionaries. Do you often use "up for grabs" as in 2 ? Could you please help explain? Thank you.
 
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  • GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Neither of your meanings is right. It means that those two states have 59 convention delegates, and the four candidates (Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul) are each trying to "grab" as many of those 59 as he can.
     

    xuliang

    Senior Member
    Chinese Mandarin
    Neither of your meanings is right. It means that those two states have 59 convention delegates, and the four candidates (Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul) are each trying to "grab" as many of those 59 as he can.
    Hi, GreenwhiteBlue, Waltern, thank you for your explanation. (I revised the formatting)

    Now the meaning of the sentence itself is clear to me. I am just a bit confused with the article now. The four candidates are grabbing delegates. Are the four candidates trying to ask the delegates to vote for them? If so, why are there also voters, mentioned in the first paragraph "Voters are heading to the polls there, casting their ballots for Republican presidential candidates." Are these voters the delegates? If not, what do these 59 delegates do?

    Thank you.
     
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    waltern

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    This is a question of politics rather than English, and the details quickly get very complicated (rules vary by party, state, etc.) - but essentially, the delegates are party members who officially elect the nominee at the party conventions (this year, Trump and Clinton each won the majority of their parties' delegates) - the number of delegates each candidate receives is tied to how many votes they receive in their parties' primary elections and caucuses (in this case, the 59 delegates "up for grabs" would be divided between Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul, depending on how well they each performed in Arizona and Michigan.)
     
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