According to insiders, Ohio Governor John Kasich has been trying for at least a month to broker a deal with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Kasich, who has known for a very long time that he has no shot of winning the Republican nomination outright, was naturally predisposed to any strategy that would keep Donald Trump from getting to 1,237 delegates. But for Cruz, the futility of a first-ballot victory only became clear over the last couple of weeks. And now the two campaigns have entered into an alliance whose primary goal is to stump Trump.
This doesn’t mean we’ll see Cruz and Kasich merge their campaigns or anything, but it does mean that they will make room for one another. When Mitt Romney was out on his Stop Trump world tour, he called on voters to choose whichever candidate had the best shot of defeating Trump in their state. It seems that Kasich and Cruz are going to exploit that strategy for all it’s worth. In a statement Sunday, Cruz’s campaign manager said that the Texas senator would focus “time and resources in Indiana and in turn clear the path for Governor Kasich to compete in Oregon and New Mexico.”
The Kasich campaign followed up with a statement of their own, agreeing to the proposition and promising to “give the Cruz campaign a clear path in Indiana.”
For much the remaining primary season, the individual outcomes are not in much doubt. Indiana is an exception. When voters go to the polls on May 3, it could represent Cruz’s last major chance to swing as many delegates away from Trump as possible. But though Cruz hopes to make the most of this opportunity, the cold facts are that he’s already missed a fairly big window. More than 200,000 voters in Indiana have already cast their ballots in early voting. If Kasich is a “spoiler,” it’s not a stretch to imagine that he’s already spoiled much of Indiana.
The other problem, of course, is one of perception. Trump supporters already have plenty of reasons to feel the system is rigged against an outsider candidate; this collusion between Cruz and Kasich – neither of whom have any shot of clinching the nomination before the convention – is just more fuel on the fire.
“Wow,” Trump wrote on Twitter, “just announced that Lyin’ Ted and Kasich are going to collude in order to keep me from getting the Republican nomination. DESPERATION!”