John Kasich will continue his presidential campaign and that makes him “self-serving” and “vain” according to David French of National Review with the implication that Kasich has no chance of winning the nomination.Cruz surrogate Glenn Beck has gone even further, using foul language for effect.
Whether conservatives like it or not, Kasich isn’t a vanity candidate and is heading into his best potential month. April is perfect for a candidate like Kasich. Wisconsin votes on April 5th, New York on April 19th, and April 26th features Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island-states where Kasich’s right-of-center, mild-mannered style of politics will play well. If he manages to win many of these states, he’ll leave the month of April with plenty of momentum heading into Indiana in May. Later on in May, Washington and Oregon once again fit well with Kasich’s moderate profile, as do states that vote in June such as California and New Jersey.
Of course, Kasich hasn’t won outside of his home state—yet. With the departure of Marco Rubio from the presidential race, Kasich will be receiving a lot of money and endorsements that he hasn’t had in the past on what has been a shoestring effort that has probably raised less than Mike Huckabee’s 2008 campaign and Rick Santorum’s 2012 campaign. Kasich, while not winning, has boasted several strong showings in places such as Vermont, Michigan, and the District of Columbia. This bodes well for the states that vote in April if Kasich is able to raise more cash.
Will he surpass Donald Trump in pure delegates? No, but he’d be in a good position going into a contested convention and could perhaps surpass Cruz for second place. Given the make-up of the states ahead, Kasich has a plausible path to challenge Trump.
The Cruz campaign would like this to be a two man race, but it has to face facts. It’s not in the position it’s in because Senator Cruz has opponents who are less virtuous and less patriotic. All things considered, Senator Cruz has run an underperforming campaign. Senator Cruz’s strength was supposed to be the South. The entire South has voted, and Cruz won only his home state of Texas. He’s won two primaries outside of his home state: Idaho and Oklahoma, both dominated by very conservative voters. Beyond that, he’s done very well in caucuses. After March 22nd, there will be no more caucuses, and the next primary dominated by very conservative voters will be Nebraska in Mid-May.
Cruz’s campaign likes to claim, if only Cruz were in a two man race, he would win. However, actual evidence is mixed, particularly when it comes to the moderate states that vote in April. Exit polls from actual voters on Tuesday showed Cruz would win a two-man race in North Carolina by a 48-43% and in Missouri by a 49-42% margin. However, in the more moderate state of Ohio, Trump would’ve won 43-39%. Cruz should pardon people’s skepticism that he can win one-on-one in places that are even more moderate like Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
Kasich’s campaign won’t cost Cruz delegates. John McCormack of the Weekly Standard mapped out a scenario under which Trump fails to get within 150 delegates of 1,237 delegate threshold before the end of the primary state and he gave every state that voted in April except for Wisconsin to Trump. If Kasich is able to take two or three states in April, he could make Trump’s odds of a first ballot victory almost nil
If Kasich can’t win another state before May, he should consider heading for the exit as the schedule will never favor him more than it does that month. At a bare minimum, a three man race in April will do damage to Trump in at least three different states. In Connecticut and New York, Trump will be unlikely to win a majority of the vote and those states will divide their at-large delegates proportionally rather than take them all, and Kasich will also cut into Trump’s delegate haul in Rhode Island. In addition, Kasich is likely to capture Congressional districts in Maryland, Connecticut, and New York that would have otherwise gone for Trump.
John Kasich is no more selfish than any other person who decides to run for the presidency. Kasich sees an opportunity to turn his campaign around, and he’s taking it. If he manages to win several of the states up for grabs in April, he’ll thwart Trump’s momentum and give himself a chance to appear as the anti-Trump candidate that voters will rally around in May and June.
Whether it works or not remains to be seen, but he certainly has a right to try, and its petty for his opponents to respond by impugning Kasich’s character or patriotism.