John Kasich won his native state of Ohio tonight – which certainly wasn’t guaranteed – and with Marco Rubio dropping out the race for the Republican nomination,he comes the last best hope of the establishment wing of the Republican Party. However, with Kasich as their lone standard bearer one can understand how little influence the Republican establishment has on this race. He will still have the least delegates by fare of any of the three remaining Republican candidates, so where does he go from here? Rubio dropped out, but Cruz isn’t going anywhere. Kasich may continue to pull in some delegates going forward in proportional states, but I don’t see how he can possibility win even one of the remaining “winner take all” states after tonight.
Kasich’s only hope is for Trump not to be able to seal the deal by the time that the primaries and caucuses are over and for him to emerge victorious out of a brokered convention even though Trump has nearly enough delegates going in to win going in. Trump supporters are very loyal and will be totally outraged that the nomination is stolen from him and given to the guy remaining with the least number of delegates. That would literally tear the Republican Party apart. On the other hand many establishment leaders cannot tolerate the image of Donald Trump being the leader and face of the Republican Party
So what is the role going forward for John Kasich if he can’t possibly pick up enough delegates to win the nomination outright? There might be some hope among the establishment Republicans that with Rubio out, Kasich will be able to consolidate all the establishment votes and establishment leader support and that the electorate in the remaining states will tire of Trump’s antics and switch to a man that has run the most positive campaign. Kasich might then become enough of a “respectable” alternative to Trump at a brokered convention so the party establishment could rationalize handing him the nomination.
Frankly, I doubt if that will happen. What I do see as a possibility is John Kasich being able to win enough delegates to prevent either Trump or Cruz for cinching the nomination before the convention guaranteeing a brokered convention. On the other hand he might just pull enough votes from Cruz to give Trump victories in enough of the winner take all states to Trump cinch the nomination before the convention.
However, the main take away form John Kasich’s victory in Ohio is that for better or worse he will probably stay in the fray through the convention or until the nomination is cinched, whichever come first. And if he isn’t the kingmaker he is sure to be the joker in the deck.