ABC: John Kasich "virtually certain" to run for president

At this point, with new candidates cannonballing into the GOP’s 2016 pool every week, maybe the question shifts from “Why would a guy like Kasich run?” to “Why wouldn’t he?” Iowa might be winnable this time with less than 20 percent of the vote, as caucusgoers are likely to splinter among a range of contenders. The sheer number of people onstage at the GOP debates might leave low-information voters overwhelmed, with only the best communicators in the field capable of creating a strong impression on them. A guy like Kasich, who’s sharp enough on camera to have hosted his own Fox show, might look at all that and conclude that anyone really can win this time. Especially if they happen to govern a swing state that’s a must-have for Republicans against Hillary.

And then there were 237:

John Kasich is “virtually certain” to jump into the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, sources close to the Ohio governor tell ABC News.

Kasich has said his wife and daughters have given him a green light to run and in recent days Kasich has told his political advisors to begin preparing for a likely campaign. Kasich travels to New Hampshire in early June and recently did a fundraising trip to California. If he makes the final decision to run, he will make the announcement in late June or July.

As a Republican elected twice as governor of the critical battleground state of Ohio, Kasich is a potentially formidable candidate. But he has also angered conservative Republicans with his decision to accept an expansion of the Medicaid program under Obamacare. He has also supported the Common Core educational standards, something derided by some conservatives as “Obamacore.”

Like Bobby Jindal, he has both executive experience as a governor and Beltway experience as a former congressman. Unlike Bobby Jindal, his approval rating back home is better than 31 percent. A month ago I thought his murmuring about running for president was more a wink at the VP nod, but now I don’t know. Scott Walker, who occupies the midwestern governor niche that Kasich is hoping to fill, burst ahead of the pack in early polls a few months ago but has since fallen back a bit, suggesting some vulnerability. Jeb Bush, the 800-pound establishment gorilla who needs four tries to answer a simple question about Iraq, doesn’t scare anyone anymore apart from his fundraising. Rick Perry’s under indictment and may be dismissed as a joke by some GOP voters because of his poor 2012 campaign. Mike Huckabee’s probably destined to end up a social-con niche candidate and will have trouble building on his 2008 share of the vote given the more talented field this time. Jindal’s polling in the low single digits despite being known as a budding national superstar within the party for the past decade. And Chris Christie is Chris Christie. Long story short, if you’re a GOP voter who’s set on a governor this time (especially if you’re an Iowan who might find a fellow midwesterner appealing), you may find after a few debates that Kasich is your best bet. Worst-case scenario: He jumps in, is mediocre on the stump, but raises his name recognition enough that he ends up moving even higher on the VP shortlist. The nomination’s basically a lottery this year given the size of the field. Why wouldn’t Kasich buy a ticket?

Speaking of longshot candidates running let’s-see-what-happens campaigns to raise their profiles, here’s your next defense secretary teasing his own announcement next month. While you watch, your exit question: Which rival is most likely to suffer from Kasich’s entrance into the race? Gotta be Walker given their similar experience/regional profiles, right? Imagine how grateful Jeb will be if Kasich gets in and manages to siphon off just enough votes from the guy from Wisconsin to allow Bush to win the nomination. A Bush/Kasich ticket is a cinch, right? Get excited, conservatives!