This isn’t rocket science. Every primary or caucus that John Kasich participates in demonstrates one thing very clearly: he loses a lot. With one win, his home state, under his belt, Kasich is taking his one shining credential for being the nominee – the ability to swing Ohio to the Republicans – and making it less prominent. Winning your home state is not an indicator of future success. It simply means you’re not a total loser, but Kasich is getting closer to demonstrating that truth as well.
If he really wanted to be the GOP Establishment choice in Cleveland, he should drop out with a caveat. He should declare that he’s suspending his campaign to focus on winning support from delegates that become unbound after the first or second ballots at the Republican National Convention. It would be a suicidal move for the RNC to anoint anyone other than Ted Cruz or Donald Trump, but as that appears more and more possible every day, Kasich could be the guy.
The problem he has is that the longer he stays in, the less likely it is that he can make that claim. His strategy is to come in third as the only “sane” candidate going into the convention with a substantial number of delegates, but he’s sacrificing his ability to prove that he can win by losing over and over again. The RNC is much more likely to select an insider with Establishment support like Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney rather than going with someone who can’t rub two victories together.
By dropping out and courting delegates for later ballots, John Kasich could be the nominee. By staying in and losing states, he’s pushing himself further into irrelevancy.