Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are trying to push John Kasich
out of the presidential race. “Rule 40b” was passed by the
Republican National Committee (RNC) in 2012 to protect their
putative nominee, Mitt Romney, from last-minute challenges.
The rule states that, in order to be nominated for president at
the GOP national convention, a candidate must have eight wins
in primaries or caucuses. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz qualify
by this standard, but the third major surviving candidate, John
Kasich does not.
Candidates Trump and Cruz know that if there are only two
candidates nominated in Cleveland in July, one of them will win
the presidential nomination. They also know that if Mr. Kasich
is nominated, and he has 300-350 committed delegates, their
chances to win are greatly diminished, especially since a recent
Trump-Cruz feud has become so personal and bitter that neither
of them is likely to support the other.
Not only is a truly contested national GOP convention growing
more and more likely, but a stalemated convention after the
first ballot is also growing more likely. Most frustrating for the
two men, who currently have the most committed delegates
between them, is the knowledge that many delegates are
released after the first ballot, and most of the rest are released
after the second ballot. Further complicating their goals,
neither of them, according to virtually all current polls. defeats
Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. John Kasich does.
Of course, current polls are of questionable accuracy, but there
is little doubt that both Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz have high
negatives --- historically high. On the other hand, Mr. Kasich
currently is regarded positively by most voters, and is the only
GOP candidate attracting significant numbers of likely
independent and Democratic voters. (Mr. Trump, to be fair,
does attract a number of unaffiliated voters who do not usually
The bottom line is that the Trump-Cruz strategy is transparent,
and Mr. Kasich is not withdrawing any time soon. Some of the
states he might do well in are ahead (e.g., Pennsylvania, New York,
New Jersey, California and Oregon). He knows that the real name
of this game is not how many states you win or the number of
delegates you have, but who is most likely to win the presidential
race in November against the Democratic nominee.
If the GOP convention in Cleveland goes to three or more ballots,
there is the possibility that someone who did not appear in the
primary/caucus season might be nominated. It has not happened
before this, but it’s always a possibility. In that case. Speaker of
the U.S. House Paul Ryan might become the consensus candidate.
It is difficult to imagine a ticket headed by Mr. Ryan not winning by
a landslide in November (and carrying with him continued GOP
majorities in both house of Congress).
This is why there is such urgency in the efforts of Mr. Trump and
Mr. Cruz to get Mr. Kasich out of the race.
Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.