The jubilance among the Republican establishment was palpable on Tuesday night. While Donald Trump crushed Marco Rubio in Florida, driving him out of the presidential race, Ohio Governor John Kasich carried his home state, slowing the frontrunner’s momentum. If Kasich had lost in Ohio, his campaign would have likely joined Rubio’s in the also-ran category. But with one meager victory, he intends to take his candidacy all the way to the convention.
And that is bad news for Ted Cruz.
Cruz has repeated his assertion that the only way to beat Trump is at the ballot box. He reiterated that message on Tuesday, calling on voters to coalesce around his campaign.
“After tonight, America has a clear choice going forward,” Cruz said. “Only one campaign has beaten Donald Trump over and over and over again.”
But that choice is not as clear as he would have preferred. With Kasich remaining in the mix, Trump will continue to benefit from a divided primary electorate. There’s every reason to suspect that many would-be Rubio voters will choose to support Kasich instead of Cruz. That likely won’t help Kasich much, but it could be enough to ensure that Cruz remains in second place in the forthcoming contests.
For Kasich, that’s fine and dandy. He has no mathematical path to the nomination. Therefore, his strategy is clear. Keep up a presence in the race, work on the establishment, and hope that the delegates will appoint him the nominee in July. For a Republican leadership that despises Cruz almost as much as they despise Trump, Kasich provides a welcome alternative. In his victory speech, he even alluded to that strategy, listing off a number of GOP insiders who were in his corner.
And Republican commentators are getting increasingly arrogant in presenting that scenario to the voters. Several of them appeared on cable news Tuesday night to argue that the primaries were not an inherently democratic machine, and that there was nothing untoward about the party choosing a nominee that the voters rejected.
And that would be a great argument to make if the party’s problem was a legal one. But as these idiots well know, it isn’t. They can come out on television every night with the RNC rulebook and quote the voters the passages that allow them to steal the nomination away from Trump – it isn’t going to matter. If Trump rolls into Cleveland with the biggest share of delegates and rolls out without the nomination, Republicans have a 0.0% chance of winning in November.
The party has three choices:
– Get behind Cruz and hope for a comeback
– Award the nomination to the delegate leader, even if it’s Trump
– Play with fire and watch the GOP go down in flames
Seeing the party’s reaction to Kasich’s victory (and knowing their propensity for foolishness), Hillary Clinton might as well start picking out some new curtains for the Oval Office.