Kasich Wins Ohio - So What Now?

Mar 16, 2016

Gov. John Kasich has won his first primary, here in his home state. But it’s not plausible that he’ll be able to get enough delegates to win the nomination outright. And his win makes it more difficult for the other two candidates in the race to win the nomination. So what does that mean for the future of the party as the campaigns journey toward the convention this summer in Cleveland?

At the party celebrating his first presidential primary win, a jubilant Kasich made his intentions perfectly clear.

“We are going to go all of the way to Cleveland and secure the Republican nomination.”

But most calculations of delegate math show Kasich could not come into the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July with enough delegates to secure the nomination outright. However, his win in Ohio made it harder for his opponents, business mogul Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, to win the nomination outright too.

Here’s why. In order to win the nomination, one of the candidates would need to win 1237 of the more than 2400 delegates up for grabs. At this point, Trump leads the pack with a large margin. Cruz comes in second, behind Trump by more than 200 delegates. And even with his 66 new delegates from winning Ohio, Kasich is back in a distant fourth place behind U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who dropped out after losing his home state of Florida during this most recent primary challenge. Rubio’s delegates could go to another candidate in the end at the convention but even if you’d add ALL of Rubio’s delegates to Kasich’s column, Kasich would still be in third place. And that is why Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper says this:

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper
Credit The State Of Ohio/Ohio Public Television

“Kasich, although he won his own state, has no path to the presidency, based on the mathematics at least.”

But what could happen, and many pundits think will happen, is a contested convention. It is clear some key leaders of the Republican Party don’t want Trump as their nominee. Trump himself says about $40 million dollars was spent by Republican operatives over the past two weeks to try to steer voters away from him. Polling shows his negatives are high and that could pose problems for him in a national election. And many Republicans have minced no words, saying they just don’t like Trump. But Trump’s supporters warn the party shouldn’t try to take action at the convention to block Trump, if he’s the top vote getter. Tom Zawistowski is a leader of the Portage County Tea Party.

Tom Zawistowski, Portage County Tea Party
Credit Statehouse News Bureau

“We respect the right of the people who do support Trump to have their opinion. And I think it’s pretty unhinged, these attacks that are going on, to basically act as if these people who are voting for Trump are somehow deranged and all of the people voting for Kasich, Rubio and others are just not understood. It’s really pretty unfortunate because finally the Republicans are reaching a much wider audience and they are getting ready to blow that as well.”

University of Cincinnati Political Science professor David Niven says while there is strong support among some for Trump, there is reason for the party to be concerned.

“The Republicans are facing a classic trap where Trump appears to have the most support within the party but the least support in November. To give him the nomination could devastate the party. To deny him the nomination could devastate the party.”

Niven says there are parallels between this situation and one the Democrats encountered in 1968.

“The Democrats that year, not only did they deny the nomination to their leading primary vote getter, their convention was rife with violence in the streets and a devastating image of the party. Ironically, in our story now, Hillary Clinton plays the part of Richard Nixon.” deny the nomination to their leading primary vote getter, their convention was rife with violence in the streets and a devastating image of the party. Ironically, in our story now, Hillary Clinton plays the part of Richard Nixon.”

Indeed, some political observers and Trump himself think there could be violence at the convention in Cleveland this summer. Cleveland is purchasing some 2000 sets of riot gear for its police officers and plans on bolstering its police force of 1,200 officers with an additional 3,800 cops pulled in from nearby suburbs.