The Kasich in the Ointment

Ohio governor remaining in race bad for Trump, worse for Cruz — and great for GOP Establishment

Gov. John Kasich’s victory in Ohio Tuesday has given him the confidence to remain in the race, and while he  most likely won’t win, he will become the fly in the ointment for Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, significantly complicating their nomination prospects.

Though Kasich may be celebrating his Ohio win, he has no chance of securing the nomination outright. None whatsoever. The simple fact is there are not enough contests or delegates left to hand Kasich victory — in order to win the nomination outright he would need to secure over 100 percent of the remaining delegates.

What his continued presence does do, however, is increase the likelihood of a contested or brokered convention. While Kasich cannot win outright, he may ensure that Trump does not win outright either and banish Cruz to an anticlimactic third place come the convention.

Indeed, Kasich’s Ohio win was in one way a godsend for Cruz, denying Trump a move one step closer to clinching the nomination. With plenty of primary left to go, Cruz still, in theory, has a fighting chance to wrest delegates from Trump.

Having said that, Kasich’s continuing presence in the race could also complicate things for Cruz, splitting the so-called “anti-Trump” vote that might have coalesced around the Texas senator. This is especially true if Kasich’s optimistic message — a contrast to that of Trump or Cruz — can find increasing support in states with more moderate, pro-Establishment Republicans.

[lz_table title=”Upcoming Primaries Latest Polling” source=”RealClear Politics”]New York (Siena poll 3/3/16)
|Pennsylvania (Harper poll 3/2/16)
|Wisconsin (Marquette poll 2/22/16)

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The latest Wisconsin polling put Rubio only ten points behind Trump. But now that Rubio has suspended his campaign, his support, should it indeed go to Kasich, could catapult the Ohio governor ahead of Ted Cruz in that state.

New York has nearly 100 delegates, and while Trump leads, the number two and three spots in the latest polling were taken by Rubio and Kasich, who were tied at 18 percent. If Rubio’s 18 percent largely goes to Kasich, which is likely, he has a fighting chance at beating Trump there and dragging the party one step closer to a brokered convention.

Rubio also polled second place with 19 percent in the latest Pennsylvania poll, where Cruz trails in third with 17 percent. Kasich came in dead last with 10 percent, but if Pennsylvania Rubio supporters flock to Kasich, then he will easily take second place, relegating Cruz to an unimpressive third place finish.

While all this is clearly bad for Trump and worse for Cruz, it is great for the GOP Establishment. Kasich’s continued presence in the race not only complicates Trump’s otherwise easy path to the nomination, it injures significantly the chances of doctrinaire conservative Cruz, whose presidency would be almost as unpalatable for the GOP elites as would be Trump’s.

Indeed, Kasich’s true hope in securing the nomination lies in his being crowned by the Establishment at the convention. “This is all I got,” Kasich said in his Ohio victory speech. “We are going to go all the way to Cleveland and secure the Republican nomination.”

[lz_third_party includes=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOS1MLINEjY”]

But if Kasich manages to prevent both Trump and Cruz from gaining enough delegates to present a clear choice to the people during the convention — and the Establishment steps in and plays kingmaker — it will not go down well with the base and could spell the end of the party.

“I think we’ll win before getting to the convention,” Trump said. But then he warned: “But I can tell you, if we didn’t and if we’re 20 votes short or if we’re 100 short and we’re at 1,100 and somebody else is at 500 or 400, because we’re way ahead of everybody, I don’t think you can say that we don’t get it automatically … I think you’d have riots.”

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