Money in the mother's milk of politics. If a candidate can't raise money, they can't compete. Contrary to what Democrats would have you think, this is a feature, not a bug. If no one is confident enough of your prospects or governance to finance you, you probably shouldn't be in the race.
Right now, for all his bluster, John Kasich is approaching what, in Appalachia, is called nut-cutting time. That time where you have to either accomplish something or fold.
Back in February, I posted on the end-of-year campaign finance reports for the various candidates. At the time, John Kasich was clustered in among other failed candidates who had had the good sense to get out of the race.
You can see that with even a moribund campaign, Kasich burned more money than he took in. Via the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Ohio Gov. John Kasich entered March with roughly $1.25 million on hand for his Republican presidential bid, a campaign finance report filed Sunday shows.
But the report shows that Kasich's fundraising picked up steam after his second-place New Hampshire finish, which elevated him as a contender, and after Jeb Bush dropped out of the race later in the month. After raising slightly more than $1 million in January, Kasich brought in $3.4 million in February, according to Sunday's report. The campaign spent $3.6 million last month.
Keep an eye on the burn rate here. Kasich went into January with $3.3 million. He raised $1 million in January. He raised $3.4 million in February. That is a total of $7.7 million in available cash of which $4.4 was raised in Jan-Feb. He entered March with $1.25. This means in January and February he spent nearly $6 million. By comparison, Ted Cruz raised $12 million in February alone.
To be sure, Kasich probably saw a bump in fundraising after around the Ohio primary but his burn rate for non-intense efforts was such that unless he raised at least $5 million over the past two weeks that he is essentially running on empty.
That comports with my post from last week on candidate advertising buys. Kasich is not buying ads in Arizona and is not spending a lot in Utah.
Current ad buys:
Team Cruz: $670k
Team Trump: $360k
Team Kasich: $0
Team Cruz: $420k
Team Kasich: $275k
Team Trump: $0
— Teddy Schleifer (@teddyschleifer) March 18, 2016
If Kasich finishes weak in Arizona (likely) and is unable to prevent Cruz from getting an outright majority in Utah (also likely) then he will have demonstrated that his is a one-trick pony and fundraising will dry up. A strong second in Arizona and keeping Cruz below 50% in Utah will buy him more time.
Kasich's ego will prevent him from actually dropping out of the race but a bad day tomorrow means he is no longer a factor because he can neither campaign nor buy advertising.