At long last, John Kasich has bowed to math. Even he said on Meet the Press yesterday that he knows he has no chance of getting 1,237 delegates and that he’s hoping to win at a contested convention.
Here is the problem with Kasich’s strategy: by encouraging people to vote for him, he’s drastically reducing the chances that a contested convention will occur. Right now, the prospects of a contested convention are on a razor’s edge, with Trump needing about 54% of the delegates remaining in order to win outright. However, Trump has both New York (92 delegates) and California (172 delegates) remaining. Trump stands a good chance of taking all of New York’s delegates, and almost all of California’s delegates (IF Kasich is still in the race at that point). If he does win both of those states convincingly, then he has to win less than 50% of the delegates the rest of the way, which he should be able to do.
This highlights the importance of the upcoming contests tomorrow. Utah selects 40 delegates, and if anyone gets over 50%, then it becomes a winner-take-all state. Polling shows Cruz right at or over the 50% line, but the only thing keeping this from being a shoo in for Cruz to sweep the board in Utah is that John Kasich is, bizarrely, campaigning aggressively in Utah. By doing so, he runs the risk of getting himself a couple delegates, but also getting Trump a pile of delegates as well.
Likewise, Arizona gets 58 delegates, and they are allocated by winner-take-all. Kasich has absolutely no shot of winning this state, but his presence on the ballot might well cause all 58 delegates to fall into the hands of Trump.
On the other hand, if Cruz is able to sweep all 98 delegates tomorrow (which he almost definitely would if he got all of Kasich’s votes), then Trump would need roughly 64% of the delegates going forward, which would be a much more difficult row to hoe for him. Mind you, even if Cruz cleared the board in this scenario, he would need ~70% of delegates going forward himself in order to clinch the nomination, which is likewise very unlikely to happen.
At the end of the day, Kasich is not going to reach 1,237. He isn’t even going to catch Ted Cruz in the delegate count. Being ~400 delegates behind Cruz with ~1000 outstanding, and with Trump still in the race, there is just no way it is going to happen. Kasich’s one and only shot at getting the nomination is being able to persuade delegates at a contested convention that he is the guy who should get the nomination.
The one problem with that is that by voting for John Kasich, you actually decrease the odds that a contested convention will occur. At this point, neither Kasich or Cruz has a realistic path to lock down 1,237 delegates, but by splitting the vote between them, there is a path for Trump to get 1,237.
So if you really want John Kasich to be the next President of the United States, the best thing you could do would be to cast a vote for Ted Cruz in your state’s upcoming primary.
Even John Kasich knows this, down in his heart. Watch Chuck Todd grill him on how encouraging people to vote for him instead of Ted Cruz is actually dooming his own campaign:
At no point during Kasichs’ rambling diatribe of an answer did he actually engage Chuck Todd’s point that the math indicates that if Kasich keeps aggressively splitting the anti-Trump vote, then Trump will end up walking away with the nomination outright.
Of course, we have to consider the possibility that this is exactly what Kasich wants.