Politics

Democrats' Kasich Strategy Makes Sense

| by Nicholas Roberts
Republican Gov. John Kasich of OhioRepublican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is not going to be the Republican nominee for president. If the Republican convention is contested, a candidate who isn't running, like House Speaker Paul Ryan, is more likely to get the party's nomination than a candidate who has only won one state so far during the primaries.  Kasich currently has fewer pledged delegates than Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who suspended his campaign on March 15.

So then why are Democrats starting to attack him? A Democratic National Committee email blast from the website "Factivists" details a list of reasons why it makes no sense for Kasich to continue his campaign: he has spent 177 days out of state, spent $350,000 on his campaign, and needs 162 percent of the remaining GOP delegates to win the nomination, the page reads.

Elizabeth Williamson of The New York Times feels the attack is a misguided and clumsy effort to clear the field of all threats to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Numerous polls have indicated that Kasich would be the most competitive candidate against Clinton in a general election, if you only include those currently running.

But the DNC's attack on Kasich should be seen as more than simple shilling for the Clinton campaign, as it may bring advantages to the party during the general election.

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Firstly, if the Democratic Party truly sees Kasich as the biggest potential electoral threat in the general election, then it makes perfect sense to start attacking him now.  The Factivists page on Kasich makes the point of attacking the candidate not on his policies, but on his seeming inability to gain any sort of traction within the Republican Party during this election season.  

If he somehow managed to actually become the nominee this year, it would be against the will of the majority of Republican voters.  There is a chance that something like this occurring may be enough to help split the Republican Party on its own, but the Democrats are not taking any chances. They will be keen to remind Republican voters of this fact should Kasich happen to receive the nomination.

The flip side of Kasich allegedly being the most "electable" candidate, according to polls, is that his rivals, billionaire Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, are both seen as profoundly unelectable and likely to get slaughtered by Clinton in a general election.  It may not be safe to rule out the chances of either of these two men becoming president, given the numerous ways this campaign season has upended received truths about American politics.  

But Trump and Cruz are far more polarizing figures than Kasich, and if either one is the nominee then they will put many moderate, suburban Republican voters who may be inclined to support Kasich into Hillary's camp. Many Republicans will support the eventual nominee, whether Trump or Cruz, but it is clear these two candidates could push traditional constituencies out of the party -- for this election cycle, at least -- if nominated.

The Democrats' strategy against Kasich makes perfect sense, whether the Democrats expect him to become the Republican nominee at a brokered convention or whether they are simply trying in their best power to accelerate the nomination of Trump or Cruz. The Democrats are effectively fighting for control for the executive and legislative branches this cycle, and it makes no sense to play nice with a candidate who stacks up well against Clinton in general election polling averages.

Click here for the opposing view on this topic.

Sources: The New York Times, Factivists / Photo credit: Marc Nozell/Flickr

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