Republican presidential candidates John Kasich and Ted Cruz announced Sunday night that their campaigns would coordinate three future presidential primary efforts to keep party frontrunner Donald Trump from securing the Republican nomination. But their agreement doesn’t do nearly as much as a stronger, earlier attempt at stopping the frontrunner would have.
For starters, the coordination agreement, or at least what’s been discussed publicly so far, only covers three states: Indiana, New Mexico, and Oregon.
Indiana, as a winner-take-all state at the district level and overall, is a must-win for the #NeverTrump camp. Polling from the state shows Trump with 39 percent of the vote, putting him ahead of Cruz by six points and ahead of Kasich by 20.
Despite his campaign’s statement, though, it appears Kasich still wants Indiana voters to support him. “I’ve never told them not to vote for me,” he said at a diner in Philadelphia. “They ought to vote for me.”
He boiled the agreement down to a cost-saving effort: “I’m not out there campaigning and spending resources,” he said. “I’m not going to spend resources in Indiana. [Cruz is] not going to spend resources in other places.”
The New York Times reported that Kasich’s super PAC was honoring the agreement and chose not to run ads for him in Indiana, though “New Day for America” PAC may have just seen the writing on the wall: FiveThirtyEight has consistently put Kasich’s odds at winning the state below one percent.
Polling is harder to come across for the two states ceded to Kasich. The Oregon primary isn’t until May 17 and New Mexico’s isn’t until June 7 (perhaps Kasich insisted on later dates to substantiate his claim that he would be staying in the race until the convention), but each awards delegates proportionally, softening the blow for Cruz.
Trump only needs 393 more delegates to win the nomination outright before the Republican National Convention this summer in Cleveland. According to an analysis by The Hill, if Trump wins at least 115 of the delegates up for grabs today, he will only need to win 22 of Indiana’s 57 delegates, 13 of Oregon’s 28 delegates and nine of New Mexico’s 24 delegates, less than half in each state, to remain on track for the nomination.
While the coordination between the Kasich and Cruz campaigns was a boon to anti-Trump Republicans, the newfound spirit of cooperation between the two may be too little, too late.
Photo: Republican presidential candidate John Kasich addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) afternoon general session in Washington March 21, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts