Cruz’s Dilemma, and Kasich’s

Ted Cruz needs to go one-on-one with Donald Trump.  He has to consolidate the anti-Trump vote, about 55 to 65% of Republicans.  Trump won’t be able to avoid debating him, and will get pummeled.  So Kasich and Rubio have to drop out.  Whether or not they endorse Cruz is immaterial.

But Cruz also cannot afford to have Donald sweep Super Tuesday.3.  Trump would then collect all 165 of the Florida and Ohio delegates.  On top of a solid majority of the remaining 202 delegate seats at stake on March 15, Donald would build up a commanding lead.  Down by 90 delegates now, Cruz could be looking at a deficit of about 400.

So solving the first problem creates the second.  Losses in their home states would force Kasich and Rubio out of the race.  But Cruz would be a lap and a half behind.

Of the three latest Florida polls, two show Trump up by 19, and one by 6 over Rubio.  The outlier, the WSTP/Mason-Dixon poll, interviewed 700 likely voters and has a 3.8% margin of error.  One of the others (Florida Times Union) polled 590, weighted the responses, and claims a 4% margin of error.  The Trafalgar Poll included by far the largest sample, 1280 respondents and claimed a 2.83% margin of error.  This was conducted earlier in the week.

Other polls conducted still earlier and released the 10th and 11th show Trump with leads of between 7% and 23%.

The debate probably changed few minds, but the disgraceful disruption Trump’s Chicago rally by demonstrators, forcing its cancellation, will undoubtedly help Donald.  This may in retrospect have been a turning point in the race.  The bully who is no friend of the First Amendment (for anyone other than himself) suddenly became the poster-boy for free speech.

So Rubio is likely to lose and withdraw—his percentage of the total raw vote has been in free fall over successive Tuesdays, and his recent rallies have been underwhelming.

But it could be a different story with Kasich.  Of the three most recent Ohio polls, he’s up by 5% in one and down by 6% in the two others.  He’s much more popular in his home state than Rubio is in Florida, and he could wind up the winner.

So the question is, if Kasich does take Ohio, will he still bow out?  He finished third in neighboring Michigan, getting just 17 delegates.  If he does no better in Illinois, the line about a Midwest stronghold falls apart, and there’s no path to the nomination at a contested convention.

Kasich dislikes Trump, and was clearly appalled by his rhetoric.  He was the second candidate to directly take him on, after Rick Perry.  But Kasich saw the direction of the wind and quickly shifted tack, avoided references to Donald, and Jeb Bush took over the role of lead attack dog.

There’s not much Donald can offer “the Governor,” as he’s taken to calling him, to stay in the race besides funding.  He’s probably already decided, for obvious reasons, that his VP choice has to be a woman:  Nikki Haley, Jan Brewer, or maybe Mia Love.

So it will be interesting, and could be critical, to see what Kasich does if he pulls out a victory on the 15th.

Tugging him in one direction is his vanity, in the other, his loyalty to the party.  He’s not fond of Cruz, but he knows what a disaster Trump would be in the general election.  The Dems will hardly need to recycle the dirt on Donald from the primary campaign.  They’re sitting on plenty of their own.  And he’s not going to suddenly become more coherent and less incendiary.

Cruz has launched no new initiatives.  He’s no more willing to talk about affirmative action than is Donald, though his campaign manager is not likely to manhandle a reporter asking about the subject.  And Cruz’s failure to forthrightly condemn the violation of Trump’s First Amendment rights in Chicago by BLM thugs underscores his failure to take on this movement.  If Kasich does stay in the race, Ted’s path to the nomination narrows almost to the vanishing point.

rev. 0905 EDT

Ted Cruz needs to go one-on-one with Donald Trump.  He has to consolidate the anti-Trump vote, about 55 to 65% of Republicans.  Trump won’t be able to avoid debating him, and will get pummeled.  So Kasich and Rubio have to drop out.  Whether or not they endorse Cruz is immaterial.

But Cruz also cannot afford to have Donald sweep Super Tuesday.3.  Trump would then collect all 165 of the Florida and Ohio delegates.  On top of a solid majority of the remaining 202 delegate seats at stake on March 15, Donald would build up a commanding lead.  Down by 90 delegates now, Cruz could be looking at a deficit of about 400.

So solving the first problem creates the second.  Losses in their home states would force Kasich and Rubio out of the race.  But Cruz would be a lap and a half behind.

Of the three latest Florida polls, two show Trump up by 19, and one by 6 over Rubio.  The outlier, the WSTP/Mason-Dixon poll, interviewed 700 likely voters and has a 3.8% margin of error.  One of the others (Florida Times Union) polled 590, weighted the responses, and claims a 4% margin of error.  The Trafalgar Poll included by far the largest sample, 1280 respondents and claimed a 2.83% margin of error.  This was conducted earlier in the week.

Other polls conducted still earlier and released the 10th and 11th show Trump with leads of between 7% and 23%.

The debate probably changed few minds, but the disgraceful disruption Trump’s Chicago rally by demonstrators, forcing its cancellation, will undoubtedly help Donald.  This may in retrospect have been a turning point in the race.  The bully who is no friend of the First Amendment (for anyone other than himself) suddenly became the poster-boy for free speech.

So Rubio is likely to lose and withdraw—his percentage of the total raw vote has been in free fall over successive Tuesdays, and his recent rallies have been underwhelming.

But it could be a different story with Kasich.  Of the three most recent Ohio polls, he’s up by 5% in one and down by 6% in the two others.  He’s much more popular in his home state than Rubio is in Florida, and he could wind up the winner.

So the question is, if Kasich does take Ohio, will he still bow out?  He finished third in neighboring Michigan, getting just 17 delegates.  If he does no better in Illinois, the line about a Midwest stronghold falls apart, and there’s no path to the nomination at a contested convention.

Kasich dislikes Trump, and was clearly appalled by his rhetoric.  He was the second candidate to directly take him on, after Rick Perry.  But Kasich saw the direction of the wind and quickly shifted tack, avoided references to Donald, and Jeb Bush took over the role of lead attack dog.

There’s not much Donald can offer “the Governor,” as he’s taken to calling him, to stay in the race besides funding.  He’s probably already decided, for obvious reasons, that his VP choice has to be a woman:  Nikki Haley, Jan Brewer, or maybe Mia Love.

So it will be interesting, and could be critical, to see what Kasich does if he pulls out a victory on the 15th.

Tugging him in one direction is his vanity, in the other, his loyalty to the party.  He’s not fond of Cruz, but he knows what a disaster Trump would be in the general election.  The Dems will hardly need to recycle the dirt on Donald from the primary campaign.  They’re sitting on plenty of their own.  And he’s not going to suddenly become more coherent and less incendiary.

Cruz has launched no new initiatives.  He’s no more willing to talk about affirmative action than is Donald, though his campaign manager is not likely to manhandle a reporter asking about the subject.  And Cruz’s failure to forthrightly condemn the violation of Trump’s First Amendment rights in Chicago by BLM thugs underscores his failure to take on this movement.  If Kasich does stay in the race, Ted’s path to the nomination narrows almost to the vanishing point.

rev. 0905 EDT