Why Donald Trump Has A Better Shot Of Winning Nomination Now That Kasich Won Ohio

Mar 18, 2016

Ohioans who voted for Gov. John Kasich in the presidential primary because they thought it would hurt business mogul Donald Trump’s chances of winning the GOP nomination might not be happy with this story. Political analysts are saying a vote for Kasich could actually end up helping Trump win the nomination outright.

Gov. John Kasich speaks at rally after winning Ohio's primary.
Credit Andy Chow

Ohio is John Kasich’s first and only win so far in this primary season. He captured 47% of the vote, taking all of Ohio’s 66 delegates. Still, political analyst Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics says it is impossible for Kasich to win the nomination outright.

“John Kasich does not have enough delegates to be the Republican nominee. He hasn’t won enough states to even get his name put into contention at the convention.”

To win the nomination, a candidate would need 1237 delegates. Right now, Real Clear Politics shows business mogul Donald Trump has 678, US Senator Ted Cruz has 413 and Kasich is far behind with 143.  Trende says Trump’s chances of winning the nomination are good right now.

Sean Trende, Real Clear Politics
Credit Real Clear Politics website: Realclearpolitics.com

“I think in a three way race, it’s probably 80 to 90%.”

Trende says that three way race is key. Kasich, emboldened by his first win, says he’s staying in the race until the convention. Another political analyst, Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium, agrees with Trende.

“In a three way field, Donald Trump has an excellent shot of getting 1237 delegates. It’s hard to say exactly because we don’t have polling data for nine states but it looks like he’s within shooting distance, within striking distance of getting to the majority.”

Kasich said he’d quit the race if he didn’t win Ohio. And if that had happened, it would have made it easier for Cruz to beat Trump. So that’s why conservative talk show hosts such Glenn Beck and one of his producers have been blasting Kasich in recent days for his decision to stay in the race until the convention.

“Kasich, I mean, excuse my language, you son of a (beep), the republic is at stake. This is not like a normal race. The republic is at stake. And instead it’s all about him.”

If Trump wins outright, the Republican Party can try to take the nomination away from him but it would be hard to do so. But what happens if neither Trump nor Cruz gets the 1237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination? Trende says that’s where Kasich stands a chance of winning. But Trende says rules would likely need to be changed to allow that. And he says it could be that the Republican Party leadership decides to go another way at that point.

Dr. Sean Wang, Princeton University
Credit Twitter

“I’m not sure the GOP power brokers are going to go with someone who only has 200-300 delegates. If the GOP power brokers are going to have a name put into contention that isn’t a runner up (ie Donald Trump or Ted Cruz), I’m not sure John Kasich is who they’ll pick. Someone like Paul Ryan I think is much more likely.”

There is talk about bringing about a unity ticket in the coming weeks but that would require Republicans to unify. Wang and Trende say unity in the GOP isn’t happening easily right now.  Wang says divisiveness is more accepted in the party now than before because the GOP has taken a harsher tone in the recent past. Trende says the big thing to watch in this convention is something that is normally boring – the rule making process established at the beginning of the event.

“The important thing and the wild card is that each convention makes its own rules. So none of the rules for this convention have really been set yet contrary to what people are talking about. That will be done by the rules committee which is decided by a committee of two delegates from each state, basically like the U.S. Senate for the Republican Party. And they can set whatever rules they want and that’s going to have a big impact I think on this contested convention if that’s what we end up with.”

Many Ohioans say they voted for Kasich, hoping for a contested convention where he could win. They might get that in the end. Or they might get another candidate all together. If a candidate doesn’t win the GOP nomination outright, the Horseshoe Casino just down the street from the Republican National Convention site might not be the only place in Cleveland where chances and odds of winning are being considered this summer.