I’ve heard a lot of predictions about the outcome of the GOP primary this week, but to say that there’s some sort of consensus forming would be a bit of an exaggeration to put it mildly. Echoing the sentiments of some of the guests on the cable news morning shows, Lawnewz said that Trump still wins the whole thing once he gets to wrangle for a few missing delegates coming into Cleveland. At the same time, Ted Cruz backer Scott Walker said that the Texas Senator is now set up to take it on the second ballot. And of course we have the clean slate predictions of those who still believe that the entire voting process will be tossed out the window and someone not even in the running right now will emerge as the GOP savior.
But now, Seth Abramson at the Huffington Post offers an even more unique reading of the tea leaves, saying that John Kasich will sweep in and walk away with the crown. Given his rather lackluster showing in every primary battle but the one in his home state, how exactly does that work? Seth lays out eight different talking points to explain this, starting with the assumption that Trump won’t get 1,237 delegates for the first ballot. This supposedly throws open the doors. (Some emphasis added.)
Ted Cruz and John Kasich staying in the race through Cleveland not only will ensure that Trump can’t get close to 1,237 delegates via primary and caucus votes, it will also ensure that both men have a reasonable delegate total by the time they arrive at the Convention — more than enough to keep both of them in the picture in the view of Convention delegates.
So Seth is saying that both Cruz and Kasich will have a “reasonable delegate total” coming in. One can make that argument for Cruz, I suppose, though according to the #NeverTrump maths, any number up to and including 1,236 is meaningless. (It never seems to be meaningless when talking about Cruz, though, for some reason.) But… Kasich? The Ohio Governor is currently sitting at 143, which is barely ten percent of the required total. He’s polling second in New York at the moment, but if Trump hangs on to his current majority in the polls that won’t matter very much.
Still, let’s move on with this string of logic. Abramason goes on to point out that while plenty of people are unhappy with Trump as a potential nominee, the “Party Elders” really hate Cruz also and he just can’t win in November.
Whereas Ted Cruz is loathed by the Republican Party elite, has lost to Hillary Clinton in head-to-head polls 55 percent of the time since November 2015, and has no actual accomplishments in government to point to, John Kasich hasn’t lost a single head-to-head poll to Hillary Clinton in 2016, is broadly if imperfectly acceptable to both Party elites and movement conservatives, and is far and away the most accomplished Republican primary candidate left.
Okay. If you like basing things on general election polls while the primary is still going on (a risky proposition at the best of times) I suppose you can make that argument. But how does that affect the actual mechanics of the nomination process? Seth claims that these same “Party Elders” will easily get Rule 40 tossed out the window which then opens the door for the tide to be turned by… Marco Rubio?
Marco Rubio has deliberately held onto his 172 delegates so that he can create a unity ticket with John Kasich in Cleveland — a ticket that will begin with somewhere between 350 and 600 delegates on the first ballot at the Convention, depending upon how many delegates John Kasich wins going forward.
Rubio is certain not to give his delegates away for free, nor to give them to his arch-enemies Cruz or Trump, nor to — as some suppose — merely fade into the background when he was and remains among the most ambitious politicians in the Republican Party.
So the Kasich presidency rides on the good will of Marco Rubio and his willingness to accept the Veep slot, bringing with him his 172 delegates. (A total between the two of them which still trails Cruz, who in turn will be trailing Trump.) That seems to be placing a lot of faith in the unpledged delegates from Colorado, Pennsylvania and North Dakota.
If Kasich were the nominee, I’ll readily admit that he might have a better shot at victory in November than Trump. Of course, “better shot” is not the same thing as victory, and it still seems to me that Kasich is such a cookie cutter swing state Governor that he also has a likely chance of duplicating Mitt Romney’s map. Is that the goal this year?
Predicting anything to do with this election is a practice which puts you immediately on thin ice, so who knows? I suppose Seth’s predictions can be pushed out there with as much validity as anyone else at this point, but it certainly sounds like it’s based largely on rainbows and unicorns at the moment.