What is John Kasich doing?

AP Photo / Steven Senne

“Did you Torah scholars know Moses parted the Red Sea? Have you studied that?” (AP Photo / Steven Senne)

It has been more than a month since Marco Rubio dropped out of the GOP presidential race. Since then, more than 2.6 million votes have been cast and 309 delegates have been up for grabs (although not all of them have been allocated).

Yet, somehow, John Kasich is still behind Rubio on both counts.

Even after taking in more than 200,000 votes in New York yesterday, good for second place there, Kasich trails Rubio by more than a quarter-million votes in the cumulative tally. He also has 24 fewer delegates than the Floridian, because the handful he won in New York were his first since taking all 66 in his home state, Ohio.

The night he won Ohio, March 15, represented both the high point and low point of Kasich’s campaign. It was his first (and only) victory of the primary process, but it was also the night he was mathematically eliminated from clinching the 1,237 delegates needed to take the nomination. Or maybe the low point came a week later in Arizona, when Rubio finished ahead of Kasich even though he’d been out of the race for seven days. (Blame early voting.)

So, remind me why Kasich is still in this race?

Supposedly, the Kasich team thinks that, by staying in the race, it can position its man to be the fallback candidate in Cleveland — favorite son! favorite son! — if no one arrives at the convention with a majority. Set aside the question of whether delegates would actually pick the (perhaps) fourth-place candidate over two men who stand to have roughly 80 percent of the delegates between them, and who (particularly in the case of Ted Cruz) are already at work securing the loyalty of said delegates as they are chosen state by state. We must also ask: Why would delegates pick Kasich when he keeps proving Republican voters don’t want him? By staying in the race, the main thing Kasich is demonstrating is that he’s not really electable.

Ah, you say, but what about those general-election polls that show he’d be the best Republican to take on Hillary Clinton? Because Medicaid expansion, or something.

I used to buy that line of argument, but I’m starting to wonder how much those poll results simply reflect a) voters’ lack of familiarity with Kasich (whereas they already know they don’t like Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, Ted Cruz), and/or b) voters’ desire to express support for a Republican this year, just not the ones they’re most likely to have as an option in November. In other words, it may just be that Kasich is seen as the “generic Republican” whom voters like in theory — particularly after eight years of a Democrat in the White House and given the electorate’s propensity over the past 60 years not to give the presidency to one party for three straight terms (George H.W. Bush’s victory in 1988 being the only exception).

One incident that helped to change my thinking came during campaigning in New York. Last week, while visiting with Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, Kasich tried to argue with them about who’s the most important figure in the Torah. From an article about the encounter in The Jewish Week:

“‘The story of the people are Abraham and God made a covenant with Abraham — not Moses!’ Kasich told Ezra Friedlander, a haredi lobbyist who was escorting Kasich through the heavily Haredi neighborhood.

“Friedlander had tried to explain that for Jews, Moses is considered the most important biblical figure, and more important than the patriarchs, because he brought the law to the Jews.

“‘Moses is up there,’ Friedlander said, as Kasich, an Anglican who was born Roman Catholic, examined shelves of Jewish texts.

“Kasich’s conversations seemed predicated on the assumption that his fervently religious interlocutors didn’t know much about Judaism.

“‘Have you studied Joseph?’ he told a group of yeshiva students. ‘Did you hear the most important thing Joseph said to his brothers? “My brothers you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Did you know that?'”

As Jonathan Chait noted, “this is a bit like visiting MIT, wandering into a physics lab, and asking people if they ever heard of this guy named Isaac Newton.” It’s the kind of grating, know-it-all attitude that makes me wonder if it’s not that Kasich is the best-liked Republican in the race, but rather that voters don’t yet know they dislike him.

Although, come to think of it, Republican voters seem to have demonstrated quite clearly that they already know they don’t much like the guy. It’s really past time for him to exit the race.

Reader Comments 0

101 comments
Bee Eldon
Bee Eldon

He's an arrogant narcissistic idiot

Richard Rossell
Richard Rossell

Kasich is terrible for Ohio. He has screwed the teachers, the police men, the firemen, the Unions, and the schools.. He brags about his 2 billion plus rainy-day fund. In the meantime our roads are full of pot-holes. President Obama should get a lot of the credit for Ohio rebounding somewhat.

Amparo Diaz
Amparo Diaz

People have voted for their nominee, DONALD J. TRUMP 2016, Please join me in sending this Message to Cruz and Kasich: . ...............................................IT'S OVER ......................................... ................................PLEASE DROP OUT OF THE RACE.............. ............................................... thank you. ........................................

Rachel Fasciano Tramontana
Rachel Fasciano Tramontana

Because he's the only logical choice if republicans go to a brokered convention which is highly likely! He'd be a fool to drop out!

fjcurry
fjcurry

I believe that the people of Ohio are getting the short end of the stick. He should really evaluate what he's doing. I suppose a few extra months on the campaign trail won't matter much in the long run.

Bob Usher
Bob Usher

He wants to be Vice President !

Kimberly Joyner
Kimberly Joyner

He still thinks he can be the 'consensus candidate' and get nominated on the second or third ballot at the GOP convention. Part of that is denying Trump as many delegates as possible, which he can do quite effectively in the more moderate / liberal Republican northeast.

Josh Llanos
Josh Llanos

Because the other two candidates are Trump and Cruz \U0001f602

Deborah Frye
Deborah Frye

That's cause they can keep that amount of votes from Trump . Cruz can't do it on his on .

Russ Kilgore
Russ Kilgore

Because his butt hurts like everyone else's. #Trump2016

WardinConyers
WardinConyers

Kasich is without a doubt, the most experienced/qualified of all the candidates.  I think he would make an excellent president.  He is, however, a rather tiring candidate, not knowing when to stop talking.  For instance, if I hear him postulate one more time about what he did in Ohio, I may have to take a hostage!  That being said, he appears to be a good, compassionate man who has refused to get into the gutter with the other buzzards.

Mark Tinker
Mark Tinker

Because he is a senile moron. One day, physicians will tell him that he is what some people refer to as "mentally retarded."

Verland Gilliam
Verland Gilliam

Kasich could very well be the nominee on the third ballot.  He knows that a lot of the Republicans and their Delegates don't like Trump nor Cruz and if no one gets the required number of 1237 deleates coming into the convention then the delegates must decide who would be the most likely candidate for Republican voters to get behind that would allow them to win the WH.  And of the three candidates, the polls indicate that Kasich is the best one to defeat the Democrats and win the WH !   If Trump cannot get at least 50% of the republican voters and their delegates to back him then he should NOT be the nominee! 

sleithe
sleithe

Who is still donating money to Kasich? I think he's still in the race because he has the money, but where is he getting it from?

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

That info is publicly available, duh.

Funny stuff, too. Very strong correlation between being unemployed and contributing to Sanders.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

So Cruz is a "rightwing extremist", but you never hear a left wing radical branded as an extremist.  Why is that?  Is it because the left wing media is the official source of all knowledge and purveyor of political labels.  The people who advocate the following proposals are what?  These proposals sure sound extreme to me.


90% income tax

Free college tuition

unborn have no rights

abortion on demand with no restrictions

hold gun manufacturers responsible for deliberate acts with their product

$15 minimum wage, whether you have to go out of business or not 

$1-2 Trillion in extra government spending while suffering with a $20 Trillion national debt

Men using the women's bathroom

Open borders and unlimited immigration

Taking more refugees from Syria

Starik
Starik

@Lil_Barry_Bailout Cruz is indeed a right wing extremist, as are you, Rafe. and you. Barry, and td.  Nobody is to the right of you guys.

sleithe
sleithe

@Lil_Barry_Bailout  Very funny. Democrats are sane, the GOP has lost its collective mind this election season. Total Loony Tunes.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Right--your candidates think a PC from Best Buy is a good place to keep above-top-secret Intel, and that people should have their bills paid by their neighbors, and that guys should be allowed to use women's showers, and THAT is sane to you wing nuts!

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Well Kyle, ole John is staying in because he has done it in Washington and he has done it in Ohio, the rest just talk about what they can do; HE HAS DONE IT.  Also because he is the only one who beats Hillary he boasts,  and the upcoming states are "favorable to him", haven't you heard?  Haha!  


What a loser this delusional narcissistic former conservative has become.  How could anyone that has competed in almost 35 states and never broke 25% think he can beat Hillary is beyond me.  If he loses PA, the state where he was born and a neighboring state to Ohio, he is really showing himself to be just a punch line.


I think it has been shown that more folks want Trump than anyone else the GOPe can find.  More and more people are resigning themselves to a Trump nomination, but I'm sure there are others that will be in denial even after he gets to 1237, with irrational hopes that somehow the delegates will desert him.  


At this point, I'm convinced that he may not win the general, but he is the only one with a legitimate chance.  He is the only one that has a chance to pick up an Obama blue state, my man Cruz is probably limited to the same states Romney won.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Gotta love the know-nothings here who can't recite a single Cruz policy position, but know somehow that he's an "extremist".

Step outside the bubble, sheeple.

DavidATL45
DavidATL45

@Lil_Barry_Bailout You think you sound knowledgeable, do you?  Cruz policy position - overturn SCOTUS decision on same sex marriage and leave it to the States is one.  In fact, Cruz has a very sick perspective on the USA.  He calls himself a States rights person, but he advocates a federalism that will destroy everything great about our country.  He is a loser and an opportunist.  He's not an American patriot.

sleithe
sleithe

@Lil_Barry_Bailout Cruz's policy positions involve shutting down the government at the drop of a hat, deporting everyone not white and straight, and making the desert sand in the Middle East glow with his carpet bombing. He is literally insane.

Starik
Starik

@Lil_Barry_Bailout For the extreme right.  What are we arguing about? Cruz is a true believer right winger. Nobody is to the right of Cruz.
 

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Starik: You can't name a single Cruz policy position, much less explain what is "extreme" about it, so we're not arguing about anything.

Tim Halloran
Tim Halloran

Because he's the only sane Republican running?

Starik
Starik

A Kasich withdrawal would only help Cruz, the right wing extremist in the race.

sleithe
sleithe

@Starik But the 3 guys left are all right-wing extremists. 

Trump is the most leftist among them, since he was a Democrat until recently.


MarkVV
MarkVV

Just for the record; We (as a country) are not a Democracy, but we are a democracy.

The democracy of the country does not mean that a party nomination process must be democratic. It is not so much the lack of democracy in that process that people are outraged about; it is the pretense of it. When the parties and their candidates urge people to go to the primaries and vote, there is never the warning that “you may think you are voting for the party nominee in your state, but actually you are voting for delegates who may or may not vote for him, depending on the circumstances and complicated and often archaic and obscure rules.” 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MarkVV That's all well and good until no candidate gets a majority of the delegates, in which case some delegates have to vote for someone else, or there'd never be a nominee

There are only two reasons this possibility is causing angst: 1) most of us have never witnessed this scenario as adults, if at all; 2) Trump is amplifying that angst by encouraging people to think something untoward -- dare I say, undemocratic -- is going on. Well, perhaps he'd like to explain how he, for instance, might end up with the nomination if he doesn't have 1,237 delegates before the convention and is not going to take "someone else's delegates."

Oh, I know! They could change the rules so that he doesn't need 1,237 delegates! But wait, he already said changing the rules now would be undemocratic, too. What to do, what to do ...

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

@Kyle_Wingfield @MarkVV The 1968 Democratic Convention came close to being brokered with Kennedy's assassination being the event that avoided that contingency. When Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, his delegates were free to vote for anyone. 


The point is that the Parties have their rules so that despite any issues that arise, they end up with one nominee. Trump's claims make him sound uneducated or manipulative. It is an exercise for the reader (and the voters) to decide which is true.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Kyle_Wingfield @MarkVV Trump could easily “explain” how he might get the nomination with less than 1,237 delegates, if he has a majority of delegates, or even if he has just majority of votes cast. Few people who are not familiar with the party rules would find that unfair.There are legitimate arguments in favor of party rules that prevent that, but that does not mean that a fully democratic process of selection a nominee is something that would defy explanation.


Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MarkVV 1,237 delegates is the bare minimum to have a majority. So he either has the majority, and all this moot, or he doesn't, and delegates have to give *someone* a majority, whether him because he's the leading vote-getter or someone else because he's a lout.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Kyle_Wingfield @MarkVV Again, most people would not find it unfair at all if the candidate who has most delegates or most votes was chosen as the nominee.

sleithe
sleithe

@Kyle_Wingfield @MarkVV There doesn't have to be a nominee of any party for an election to take place. There is nothing about primaries in the Constitution. Nothing. It's a recent invention. So, political parties can do whatever the heII they want.

Rickster_
Rickster_

If Rubio had the half the resume' that Kasich does, he'd have been a lot more electable.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Rickster_ And yet, here he sits, a month after dropping out, with more votes and delegates than the "electable" Mr. Kasich ...

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@Rickster_ No, if he had half the common sense.  And Kasich actually thinks he's electable.

Cobbian
Cobbian

Interesting column.  Kasich is the only Republican left in the race who is not a far right nut and Wingfield is tearing him down.  


It would, by all means, be clearer that the Republicans are irredeemably lost in wacko land if Kasich dropped out.  Then it would be the politically dumb Trump and the politically extremist Cruz left, perfectly depicting what the Republican Party has become.  

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Starik You missed the point, which is that *whoever* is the GOP nominee will be branded a "far right nut."

DavidATL45
DavidATL45

@Kyle_Wingfield @Starik Actually, Wingfield, all of the GOP candidates are right wing nuts.  Trump, perhaps, less so than the others.  The GOP set this up - not the Democrats.  You are the ones who lost control of your party to the wingnuts, don't blame the other party for calling the GOP what it is.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Cobbian If he were nominated, I have a feeling we'd see a redefinition of "far right nut" to make sure it fit him.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@Starik @Kyle_Wingfield Who is to the left of Sanders?  Who is to the left of where Hillary is pretending to be other than Sanders?  Who thinks everything s/b free?  Who thinks she is being hounded by a vast right wing conspiracy, believes in UFOs and spirits?  Dems have the true extremists kooks.