On CNN, political science professor Jason Johnson discusses Donald Trump’s endorsement of Paul Ryan and John McCain, and John Kasich’s continuing reluctance to endorse the GOP nominee.
On WOIO CBS Cleveland, Dr. Jason Johnson previews the so-called Acela Primary, the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.
Not all collaborations are created equal.
When Run-DMC and Aerosmith came together to make “Walk This Way” in 1984, it transformed rap and rock worlds for the better. When Jay Z and R. Kelly started their Best of Both Worlds tour in 2004, it seemed like a good idea at the time, even if it crashed terribly. When Brad Paisley and LL Cool J got together for “Accidental Racist” in 2013, we were pretty sure neither of them had any idea what they were doing.
On Monday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced they’re going to make political music together and collaborate to stop Donald Trump from winning the Republican presidential nomination. This is a bad idea, this is R. Kelly and Justin Bieber bad, and it’s a sign that not only is the Republican nomination race over, but none of these candidates ever really understood what the audience wanted.
Monday, a team of Kasich and Cruz managers, pollsters and strategists announced that the two campaigns would be coordinatingefforts to keep Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the Republican nomination this summer. Trump has 845 delegates, Ted Cruz has 559 and Kasich has 148 (still fewer delegates than Marco Rubio, who dropped out weeks ago). To make this dream collaboration a reality, the Kasich campaign will supposedly stand down for the upcoming Indiana primary, where Cruz has a chance to beat Trump, and the Cruz campaign will stand down in Oregon and New Mexico, where Kasich is seen as having a better chance of beating Trump. The idea is that while individually they can’t take down Trump, working together, Kasich and Cruz can peel off enough delegates in the next few weeks to stop Trump. The problem is, this idea sounded so much better in studio than it does on the election stage.
On a practical level, the team-up is already showing fractures. Kasich and Cruz never met personally to discuss this plan, and while it’s unlikely that their campaign teams conceived of this plan without the candidate’s knowledge, without so much as a handshake, it’s hard to believe that either man’s heart is really in the deal. Less than 15 seconds after the arrangement was announced, Kasich told the press that he’d still hold a fundraiser in Indiana and he wouldn’t tell his supporters directly to vote for Cruz. And while Cruz has publicly said he’s happy about the plan, a super PAC supporting Cruz will still be running anti-Kasich ads in the state just to make sure. Meanwhile Trump is playing his fiddle while the Republican establishment burns.
The collusion between his two opponents feeds into the same old song that Trump has been singing for months: that the Republican establishment is trying to rig the primary to keep him out, denying voters their rights in the process. However, it’s really worse than that. Kasich and Cruz aren’t really politically harmonizing at all; it’s a cynical and transparent stunt to retain relevance for fading stars of the Republican Party. Think Madonna kissing Drake, or Madonna kissing Brittney Spears, or Madonna kissing … . You get the point. Stunts didn’t save the Material Girl and they won’t save Cruz and Kasich either. There are already reports out of Indiana that Republican primary voters don’t like the sound of this Kasich/Cruz collabo and are planning to vote Trump out of protest.
Occasionally a team-up will work, like when the mentor and the mentee get together we get Jay Z and Kanye or Joe Biden and Barack Obama. Or perhaps one star teams up with another to rehabilitate their image, like Elton John with Eminem or T.D. Jakes rolling with George W. Bush. But these arrangements only work when they’re authentic, and focused on making the individuals better, not as an attempt to stop someone else.
I don’t think anyone would’ve bought Watch the Throne if they knew it was an attempt to knock Drake off the charts, and Republican voters aren’t going to be compelled buy this Kasich/Cruz gambit to stop Trump either. It is not Trump’s fault that 43 states into the primary and no one is listening to the GOP establishment. Maybe they need to get back in the studio and work on some better campaign tracks that people want to hear before they try to snatch the mic out of Donald Trump’s hands.
This article originally appeared online at The Root.
On MSNBC The Place for Politics, The Root Politics Editor Jason Johnson discusses the state of the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries with Katie Glueck of Politico and Republican strategist Phillip Stutts.
The New York presidential primary was the return of the inevitable.
For weeks the popular press narrative was that the races for the party nominations were getting close. Ted Cruz was mathematically gaining on Donald Trump on the Republican side, and Bernie Sanders was closing the gap with Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side. However, the modern presidential primary process is not really a race; it’s more like the NBA playoffs. It will look close, and maybe the scrappy underdog team will win a game or two, but in the end, you know that LeBron is going to win the series, Steph Curry is going to hit critical shots and the finals are going to be the same folks we’ve been talking about all year.
In a similar vein, even after other candidates strung together a couple of victories, New York was that playoff reminder that the election is going to come down to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The only question now is when do their challengers decide to sink their heads and walk off the court.
Trump won 89 out of a total 95 potential GOP delegates in the New York contest, with 60.4 percent of the overall vote among Republicans. That leaves him with 845 delegates and a huge lead over everyone else. John Kasich came in a distant second with 25.1 percent of the vote and a win of four delegates, while Ted “New York values” Cruz ended up with zero delegates. Hillary Clinton earned 59 percent of the New York Democratic primary vote and snagged 175 Democratic delegates to Bernie Sanders’ 106 delegates. So, who will drop out first? Here’s a sliding scale.
He’s a Goner
Bernie Sanders, despite a defiant tone all the way up until he lost, is the candidate most likely to drop out of the presidential race after Tuesday’s New York primary. Mind you, he won’t drop out because of New York, but in the end, New York will be viewed as the beginning of the end of his campaign. Sanders literally camped out in the state for weeks prior to the primary; he said (as a pro-Clinton group happily pointed out) that he’d win in New York 27 times in rallies and speeches. He talked fondly of his childhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., met with local supporters like Erica Garner and did everything short of burning a Re2pect tattoo onto his forehead.
He hoped that an upset win in a diverse blue state would propel him forward to the mid-Atlantic-conference primaries next Tuesday and dispel the belief that his campaign could win only in relatively small, nondiverse states. The rest of the primary schedule isn’t very friendly to the Vermont senator either, and by most accounts, he’d have to win over 55 percent of the vote from here on out (including some huge blowout wins) to catch, and then beat, Clinton. Best guess, Sanders will hold out until the last primary in June out of respect for his supporters, but it’s possible that he’ll “suspend” his campaign before then.
Livin’ on a Prayer
John Kasich managed to scrounge out four delegates in the New York GOP primary, but he came in a dismal distant second to Trump and still hasn’t managed to win one state outside of his home state of Ohio. He has a total of 147 delegates, which is a pretty horrific showing. To put it into perspective, Marco Rubio quit the race a month ago and he still has 20 more delegates than Kasich has managed to land.
His plan of scoring with moderate New York Republicans never materialized, and not only does he have no numerical path to the nomination going forward, but he doesn’t even look like a viable contested-convention option. His inability to expand his victories to “Kasich friendly” moderate Republicans would make him a foolish choice even after the inevitable Cleveland convention fight. Best guess, his campaign will be “suspended” sometime in the middle of May. Kasich’s campaign is in the red, and there just isn’t enough super PAC money floating around this late in the game for him to campaign in California, let alone crisscross the country for another two months.
Ted Cruz is the least likely candidate to drop out after New York. Why? Because he didn’t actually care too much about winning the state. Once he realized that his “New York values” comment was a killer, the Cruz campaign began to focus on Pennsylvania, Maryland and the rest of the East Coast primaries next week. Cruz has convinced himself and many of his supporters that a backdoor campaign of getting delegates selected in states where Trump has already won a primary is his best way of beating Trump for the nomination, even if that’s the campaign equivalent of asking a woman out at her bachelorette party.
Cruz, however, has demonstrated that there’s really nothing he wouldn’t do to win the job, even if his own party and roughly 50 percent of GOP voters have routinely rejected him. His 559 delegates are impressive, but as long as Trump maintains his lead and Kasich is sucking away other voters, Cruz likely won’t win head-to-head outside of a miracle. Best guess? Cruz won’t be dropping out of the race unless some horrendous scandal forces him to. And even then, he might still hold out, at least until a few rounds of voting at the convention.
This article originally appeared online at The Root.