John Kasich Fans May Not Support Cruz In Indiana
Over the weekend of April 22, Ted Cruz and John Kasich were busy plotting how to overthrow ultra anti-establishment candidate and frontrunner Donald Trump. In an effort to prevent him from gaining delegates, the two opponents adopted a divide and conquer strategy that depends most immediately on Indiana, Oregon, and New Mexico. According to the campaign trail split, Kasich will steer clear of Indiana and Cruz will stay out of the latter two states. Currently, their plan hinges on whether Kasich's fans in Indiana will vote for Cruz in the name of #StopTrump. With less than a week left before the primary, the chances look slim and the plan is falling apart.
When it comes down to it, Kasich and Cruz are two very different candidates. Most significantly, Cruz is more socially conservative than his relatively moderate opponent. Indiana politicians who joined the Ohio governor's leadership team are quite unhappy by the sudden change in plans for that single reason. For State Sen. Jim Merritt, a prominent member of the team, Kasich's move verges on betrayal.
I put my name on the line for someone, and then the rug kind of got pulled. My name's on a headline with another candidate, and then all of a sudden there's some agreement that has not really been explained to me ... it tends to disappoint.
Even if the candidate had won the approval of his leadership team, Cruz wouldn't be guaranteed to win the moderate vote. Most recently, New York's primary demonstrated the extent to which his hard-line views don't appeal to moderates. Exit polls showed that among Empire State moderates, even Trump was more popular than the Texas senator who formerly shut down the government. Of the 24 percent of Republican voters who identified as moderate, 42 percent supported Kasich and 46 percent supported Trump. Cruz, who received just 13 percent of the moderate vote, seemed to be an outlier candidate.
If anything, Cruz and Kasich's team-up came too late in the game. Since Indiana allows voters to submit their ballots weeks ahead of the actual primary date, over 60,000 people had already voted before they released their joint statements on Sunday. To make matters worse, Kasich further confused anti-Trump Republicans less than 24 hours later. While campaigning in Pennsylvania on Monday, he said that supporters in Indiana should still vote for him, calling his and Cruz's plan "not a big deal." The Ohio governor proceeded to stop in Indianapolis on Tuesday for a fundraising event.
Preliminary polls predict Kasich will command roughly 19 percent of the Republican vote in Indiana and that Cruz will take about 33 percent. According to those numbers, Trump is leading Cruz by about six points. This suggests that Cruz can beat Trump by a landslide if he convinces Kasich's fans to support him. Given the stark differences between Trump's rivals and what appears to be an abandonment of the plan on Kasich's part, it's not likely.