The reason may be that Kasich, like Jon Huntsman four years ago, is spending too much time in the media bubble. The predominately center-left political press may like the substance of what Kasich is saying — his positions on gay marriage and Medicaid, for instance — and then forget how little they have in common with Republican primary voters.
I’d thought that Kasich might be engaged in an elaborate tactical bank shot. First, get on the radar screen by any means necessary. Run a ton of ads in New Hampshire six months before anyone votes there? Sure! Cozy up to the center-left media? Some coverage is better than none! Deliberately emphasize your moderate positions on the debate stage, so as to at least stand out from the other 16 candidates? Well, why not!
But part two of the strategy, I’d assumed, would be a pivot — once he had found his footing, he would move back to the right. Kasich was conspicuously not doing that in Milwaukee, however. Instead, he was going out of his way to pick fights with other Republicans, usually to prove how moderate he was.