Will John Kasich Drop Out After Wisconsin? It's Always Been A Long Game For Him

On Tuesday, April 5, the presidential primary process will once again hit a fever pitch. That's because the Wisconsin primaries are being held for both parties, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fighting a comeback effort by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side, and billionaire businessman Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich vying for the Republican candidacy. And maybe you're wondering, why is that last guy even still in the race? Will John Kasich finally drop out after Wisconsin?

It's an understandable question, considering just how poorly Kasich has fared in the GOP nominating race. So far, he's won only one state ― his home state of Ohio ― and he's currently in fourth place in the delegate count, still trailing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who isn't even in the race anymore. What possible reason could he still have to be hanging in this thing?

He can't even theoretically win a majority of the delegates needed to win the nomination anymore ― he was mathematically eliminated in March, and he's currently trailing big in the polls in Wisconsin. But therein lies the reason! It doesn't matter to Kasich whether he wins or loses Wisconsin, because his candidacy isn't about winning primaries anymore. Not in the traditional sense, at least. So no, he probably isn't dropping out after Wisconsin. He's in this for the long haul.

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To the contrary, the only thing that can be considered a "win" for Kasich at this moment is a loss for Donald Trump. That's been no secret over the past few weeks, with Republican rules officials openly discussing the different ways Trump might still fail to secure the nomination, and the basic fact is that it'll have to come down to a contested convention. If Trump falls short of the crucial 1,237 delegate majority, he won't be able to win the Republican nomination during the convention's first ballot.

And if he doesn't, all those delegates become unbound on the subsequent ballots. They're no longer obligated to support Trump, in other words, and may vote for whomever they please to be the nominee. That's the moon-shot scenario that Kasich's presidential hopes rely entirely on ― that in a contested convention that goes to a second ballot, he can convince a majority of the delegates to rebuke the vitriolic Trump and the deeply unpopular Cruz in favor of him, the most obviously electable GOP candidate.

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The polls are pretty clear about this: Kasich truly is the biggest threat left in the race to whichever Democratic candidate he'd face (in all likelihood, delegate math being what it is, Hillary Clinton). But the situation he's in, which has to be very frustrating, is that he's been completely turfed out of the race by two candidates with big, obviously glaring weaknesses, and now he's relying on procedural chaos to try to slide in. But that's clearly the choice he's made, so don't expect losing on Tuesday to chase him from the race.