Did the Trump GOP nomination train hit an elephant on the political tracks when Ohio Governor John Kasich won the state on Super Tuesday 2? Trump heading into Super Tuesday 2 was expected to do very well and indeed he did in sweeping 99 Florida delegates, as well as winning North Carolina, Illinois and according to NBC News, Missouri. But the clean sweep was denied and now Texas Senator Ted Cruz may have a fighting chance to deny his nomination.
What had begun as a 17-person field was winnowed down to a slim three as primary after primary and caucus after caucus the field began to slowly dwindle. Yet all during the GOP marathon race, Kasich spent his time nearly invisible to the national press and the GOP voters. It appeared that he, not former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who called himself the tortoise in the race, ended up gaining traction.
But what does this portend for the presidential sweepstakes now that the political underbrush has been cleared away of Christie, Carson, Huckabee, along with once establishment hopeful Florida Senator Marco Rubio. The next two months will most certainly offer GOP voters the difference between the Constitutionalist in the form of Cruz, the billionaire populist businessman Trump and middle of the GOP highway Kasich.
For the odds makers who may have wondered how could a nearly invisible presidential candidate like Kasich outlast GOP top tier political fighters like Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, and even outsiders like Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina? After all, at times in 2015 and in 2016 when Trump was sucking nearly all of the media oxygen, they got what was left.
The answer is simple. Kasich, unlike many of the national profile GOP candidates had identified his one and prized target and that was New Hampshire. He held over 100 town hall meetings and diligently worked his plan and bet his entire political fortune on New Hampshire. Kasich nearly pulled it off and came in second place in New Hampshire as Trump barely edged him out.
More importantly, Kasich fully understood what worked with New Hampshire voters, and that is being able to listen, share a vision and keep the message simple and hopeful. In addition, Kasich, who pulverized his Democrat opponent for reelection in 2014, swept nearly all 88 counties except for 2. He gets bonus points for going 13 out of 13 election wins over his career in Ohio. In other words, he has a history of winning, winning, winning.
Now that the fourth quarter has started, many Cruz and even some establishment Trump detractors are wondering aloud why is Kasich even still in the race. He has no real mathematical pathway to the 1,237 delegate count needed to claim the nomination. In fact, he would need close to 102 or so percent of the remaining delegates in order to secure the nomination at the Cleveland presidential convention.
The truth should seem apparent. Kasich sees a window to the nomination that others like Cruz and media pundits find hard to swallow. As the only remaining true establishment type remaining in the race, Kasich has to be betting that neither Trump or Cruz will come to the GOP convention with the required 1237 to capture the presidential nomination.
Even though the pathway there will be rocky for Kasich, he believes that his capture of 66 delegates in the winner take all Ohio primary gives him some degree of momentum as the race heads into blue-collar states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and even New York. In effect, he takes on the Republican establishment mantle that Rubio saw turn to ashes in his overwhelming blowout defeat in his home state of Florida by Trump.
So, as the primary dates wind down to the convention do not be surprised if the Kasich surge is real and he begins to rack up support in delegate rich East Coast states on April 26 where 172 will be netted by the winners. Of course there is the do or die June 7 California primary where another 172 delegates will be awarded.
In a political year where all presidential campaign rulebooks have been tossed to the side, make certain you keep your political powder dry and see how Kasich’s come from behind campaign is doing. You, Trump, Cruz and the nation may be in for a Cleveland surprise.