Just Where Does John Kasich Actually Plan to Compete?

By | February 22, 2016

I keep seeing recent stories that the GOP is strongly trying to push John Kasich off a cliff–I mean, give him a nudge to drop out of the race. They keep saying “It’s Rubio’s world and you’re just living it.” Now I disspelled that notion yesterday as I don’t think most Kasich voters are necessarily Rubio voters and vice versa. [I mean, why would an old, experienced white male who bleeds “Midwestern” draw the same crowds as a painfully-unaccomplished, metrosexual Florida Cuban who can’t make even flipping a hamburger in Iowa look natural?] But I have to admit that Kasich is leaving me baffled lately…

He is apparently not going to be in Nevada when the results are announced, meaning he basically forfeits the state. He did the exact same thing in Iowa, choosing to ditch the results to go campaign in New Hampshire early. And he is barely even trying in most Super-Tuesday states. He is instead choosing to focus on Michigan which does not even vote until March 8th, a full week after Super-Tuesday will have given everybody who did choose to compete an insurmontable delegate lead.

Some of you may have seen the over-blown stories that Kasich is a sexist because of a comment he made that women in Ohio chose to “leave their kitchens” to vote for him during his early congressional run. It sounded awfully out of touch, but there’s no question it was taken out of context deliberately and probably first-reported by a conservative media outlet that wants this guy out of the race yesterday. In their minds Kasich is what’s standing between Marco and the nomination, oblivious to the fact that the older white crowds drawn to paternal figures that are propping up Kasich would probably be just as likely to vote for Trump. [Pundits reluctance to understand the importance of Identity Politics for everyone is usually their prognosticating downfall.]

Do I feel the rush to push Kasich out is premature? Absolutely, after all this guy came in second in New Hampshire so he’s not doing much worse than Rubio has done so far. Do I feel Kasich is actually a stronger candidate to beat out Trump than Rubio? With a party this anti-immigration and anti-“first-term senators with foreign names,” yeah probably. Do I feel like Kasich is actually a much better candidate to beat Hillary in November than Rubio is? Unquestionably.

Yet I have to admit that the guy does not seem to have any plan or even interest in competing in states West of the Mississippi or South of Maryland. By contrast, the other candidates have more obvious strategies: Ted Cruz is cobbling together an army of minions by building what everyone says is “a great ground game and an impressive network” of operatives to rival spy networks in occupied territory. Rubio is racking up endorsements from people nobody cared about when they endorsed Bush this time or Romney last time (including Romney himself). And Trump is focusing on the uninspired strategy of actually winning states. For Kasich to justify a path forward, it might need to be a little bit better than just trying to win one state by March 8th…when twenty two have already voted.

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