The Ohio state GOP is John Kasich’s machine. He owns it like the Barbours own Mississippi.
The party, run by close allies, helped him pay for trips to New Hampshire and South Carolina in the months before he announced his campaign. In January the party threw its support behind Kasich, breaking 64 years of neutrality in the presidential nominating process. (The last endorsement went to Robert Taft, in 1952.) Only one other candidate this year had the backing of a state party—New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, whose home state GOP got behind his candidacy.
We saw all the good the support of the state party in New Jersey did Christie. Given the fact that the party apparatus is being used as a Kasich GOTV effort, if he loses the state to Trump, he’ll take the party down with him.
Over the years, the Ohio GOP has polished absentee turnout to an art, including chasing snowbirds at their winter addresses and people who’ve moved out of state but haven’t yet updated their voter registration. The party sent mailers to about 150,000 absentee voters, each of whom will also receive follow-up calls from Kasich’s super-PAC, a coordinated effort no other candidate can duplicate, says [State Chairman Matt] Borges. The party is sending a million more cards to Republican voters expected to vote on primary day. Republican candidates for local office are carrying Kasich campaign literature as they canvass, as will more than 1,000 volunteers coordinated by the state party.
Quinnipiac’s latest poll has Trump ahead of Kasich 38 to 32 percent. The RCP average gives the state to Trump within the margin of error. Only Fox News gives Kasich the win. Not only is Ohio a “must win” for Kasich (he said he’ll exit the race if he loses), but it’s another test of Trump’s cult-of-personality Blitzkrieg against tried and tested party machines. In previous tests, Trump has come out the winner.
If Trump wins Ohio, I half expect Kasich to be the next governor to stand behind Trump on the Podium of Triumph with a look of sheer terror and shock pasted to his face. He should have left the race a month ago, and allowed Ted Cruz to do the legwork. Without Kasich, I believe Cruz could beat Trump in Ohio.