I wrote previously here at RedState about the Kasich campaign's failure to produce the proper petitions to be on the ballot in Illinois. As I mentioned at the time, this only actually prevented his being on the ballot if someone challenged it.
No one did.
Note: Cruz lawyer requested Kasich's facially deficient Illinois petitions. So they made a STRATEGIC CHOICE to keep him on the ballot.
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) March 10, 2016
Strategic choice. Let's see if that worked out.
I've been thinking about Tuesday's results the past two days. There is no question that Trump's Illinois win was a big moral victory for him. But the question is, did it have to happen?
Donald Trump won Illinois with 38.84% of the vote. Ted Cruz took second at 30.33%. That is a difference of 8.51%.
John Kasich took ~20%. See the problem here?
If Kasich wasn't on the ballot, his voters would have to go elsewhere. It comes down to where they would go. Obviously if all went to Trump, or if half went to Trump and half to other, or half went to Trump and half to Cruz, it wouldn't have changed the outcome for Ted. But is that the most likely scenario?
In the last WSJ/Marist poll in Illinois before the primary, among voters who had a preference, when asked for their second choice they chose Ted Cruz just over two-to-one over Donald Trump, but fairly even with Rubio. By that breakdown, we could round it out to 8% more to Cruz, 8% more to Rubio, and 4% more to Trump. Not enough to close the gap and turn the state over.
However, if we look at the actual results from last night, Cruz and Trump both crushed Rubio. In part because Rubio under-performed his polling by about half, and in part because Cruz over-performed. So it is at least possible this would have been reflected in second choice polling, giving Cruz maybe another 4% for a total 12% gain. That would be exactly enough to sway the election.
It's all speculative. I'm just making some best guesses here. But that's kind of my point. The Cruz campaign had to guess. It's hard to see how they guessed right. In the worst case, they probably would have closed the gap in Illinois. In the best unicorn rainbow case, they would have turned it.
I just can't conceive of why they didn't challenge Kasich on the ballot. You know, unless there was some kind of strategic voting deal in place. If there was, it seems to have done Ted Cruz pretty much no good across the board.