WASHINGTON, March 23, 2016 — With the majority of the GOP presidential primaries and caucuses in the rearview mirror, why do most Americans support Ohio Gov. John Kasich over Hillary Clinton? Equally important, why is the GOP establishment avoiding Kasich as the most politically logical nominee to take on Clinton in the general election?
As Trump nears the 1,237-delegate nomination threshold, the presidential anybody-but- Trump stakes become higher and higher. As it stands now, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, with 463 delegates to Trump’s 738, will not cross the nomination threshold without a contested convention. Even with all of the inventive mathematical equations that the Texas senator suggests, his fate and Kasich’s, and perhaps Trump’s lies squarely in the hands of the convention delegates.
A Quinnipiac University National Poll released on Wednesday gauges Trump’s strength and Kasich’s chances of winning a one-on-one election battle with Clinton. According to Quinnipiac, Kasich runs best in head-to-head general election matchups among all American voters. He outdistances all other candidates by wide margins. Here are the results:
- Clinton tops Trump 46 – 40 percent;
- Clinton gets 45 percent to 42 percent for Cruz;
- Kasich tops Clinton 47 to 39 percent;
- Sanders beats Trump 52 to 38 percent;
- Sanders tops Cruz 50 to 39 percent;
- Kasich gets 45 percent to Sanders’ 44 percent.
The process for selecting a presidential candidate is typically to have one candidate survive the primary and caucus battlefield and go on the convention with the nomination and the Party mantle firmly in hand. Unfortunately for the GOP establishment, Trump decided to rewrite the political primary handbook for 2016.
Trump still leads national polls of Republicans, with 43 percent to Cruz’s 29 percent, according to the Quinnipiac poll. According to the Real Clear Politics Averages, Trump leads Cruz with 44 percent to the Texas senator’s 28.6 percent.
Kasich, on the other hand, has won only his home state of Ohio, and in the Quinnipiac and Real Clear Politics polls he comes in at 16 percent and at 18.4 percent, respectively. How does placing last entitle Kasich to the GOP nomination? It’s about the election math. Kasich, the least popular candidate among Republicans, is the strongest candidate against Hillary. Presidential elections are about winning; they aren’t just popularity contests.
In Real Clear match-ups between Clinton and Cruz, Cruz has beaten Clinton only once—by a single point—tied once, and lost three times. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
One the other hand, Kasich in a head-to-head matchup with Clinton now leads 48.0 to Clinton’s 42.8. In addition, last-place Kasich is first place in taking on Clinton in the past month: He lead Clinton by 3 points, 6 points, 4 points, and this past week, by 8 points.
American voters are not feeling the love for Trump or Clinton. At least 54 percent say they would not ever vote for Trump and 43 percent say no way to Clinton. Only 14 percent reject Kasich. Elections are won by votes.
If winning back the White House is the goal, then why will the GOP elite not back Kasich if the convention is contested?