For those of you watching the US presidential primaries with horror/interest, here’s a question: why is John Kasich hanging in there still? He has almost 700 fewer delegates than Donald Trump, with only 733 of them left to play for in total. He’s almost out of mathematical contention – and he’s obviously out of any realistic prospect of winning the nomination on pre-convention delegates. So why does he bother?
I asked this question to an acquaintance yesterday and he told me his very interesting theory: that if Trump can’t get the delegates he needs prior to the convention, Kasich not only has a great shot at the nomination, but his nomination becomes actually pretty likely. Think about it: Kasich is the only Republican candidate who can possibly beat Clinton (this isn’t just conjecture either – polling suggests this is the case). He is the only one of the remaining three Republican candidates to have held senior political office (by that I mean run something, so governor and up. Cruz is a Senator). On top of that, Kasich would have remained in the race until the end and thus would begin the conference with a store of delegates won by doing the hard miles. So he would have an advantage over any other Republican establishment candidate in that he had never dropped out of the race.
While I like the theory and think huge portions of it make a huge amount of sense, I still don’t think it will actually happen. For starters, I think Trump will get the nomination pre-convention anyhow, but even if he doesn’t, I still don’t think Kasich will get the nomination. Simply for the reason I’ve already stated – it makes too much sense. We live in a crazy era of iconoclastic weirdos on the rise and anger within previously established and mainstream political entities. Trump is like Corbyn in more ways than one – both of them are the result of a membership that tried to “politics as usual” only to see it not work out for them (for Republicans, it was going with “safe bet” Romney last time out). So I don’t think it will happen precisely because it is the thing that should happen and would make the most sense for the people who get to make the decision to do.
Perhaps I am being too cynical here. I would actually like to be proven wrong here – I would love it if Kasich could become the Republican nominee. While he is not centrist by European standards, he is by American ones. For instance, he isn’t a climate change denier, he favours (limited) prison reform and has signed an executive order calling for the ban of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation for state employees (God, American politics is fucked up, isn’t it, when that makes you centrist? Sorry, I digress). Kasich v Clinton would be a genuinely interesting contest – whereas Trump v Clinton or Cruz v Clinton will just be horribly depressing.
It’s says a lot about the politics of the western world when you can pull for someone with whom you disagree with on most things, simply because he isn’t either totally mad or viciously malevolent.