Governor Kasich’s Chances to Win the 2016 GOP Nomination and Then the Presidency, Estimated By This Citizen of Ohio

He has no chance. For either. None whatsoever.

Which, you know, is too bad, at least the “winning the GOP nomination” part (I don’t want him to be president). As far as the current iteration of the GOP goes, he’s not bad — he’s pretty smart, he’s well-experienced both as a current governor and a past US representative, and as a governor in a swing state, he’s been reasonably pragmatic, or at least, as pragmatic as any GOP governor is these days. All of which is to say that if he did somehow manage to become president, I would expect him to be a bureaucrat rather than an ideologue, which would suit me just fine.

But I don’t expect him to get out of the first few primaries, if he gets that far, because, well, who is the Kasich primary voter? Those who want someone with gubernatorial experience will go to Bush or Walker first and then probably Jindal; those who prefer conservatism fiery and/or unhinged have a whole buffet to choose from. Kasich as far as I can see is always the “other” option. Oh, sure, there are Republicans out there who could be on board for “boring competent conservative,” but recent history suggests they don’t show up for primaries (and if they do, hello Bush). I’m just not seeing the Kasich groundswell. Hell, we barely think of him at all here in Ohio.

Unless Kasich is entirely delusional, he also knows he has no chance, which makes you wonder what his endgame actually is. VP? Maaaaaaaybe? Bush/Kasich or (oy) Walker/Kasich is something I could see, with the idea that Kasich could deliver Ohio. This may just be his way of popping onto the radar for that. Other than that: Secretary of the Treasury, maybe? Positioning himself as a lobbyist once he’s two-termed out of the statehouse here in Ohio? It’s gotta be something, because “actually becoming president” isn’t going to be it.

But, we’ll see, won’t we. I’ve certainly been wrong before, even if I don’t expect to be about this.

49 Comments on “Governor Kasich’s Chances to Win the 2016 GOP Nomination and Then the Presidency, Estimated By This Citizen of Ohio”

  1. Politics as show business.

    Running for president is basically auditioning for the Leading Man role (or Leading Woman, in Hillary’s case). If you consider yourself a serious actor, you gotta try.

  2. I suspect his endgame is getting his name out there for running against Hillary’s presidency next time (or, God willing, President Sanders). If the big names of the GOP lose against Hillary-or whomever the Dems do run, but really it is Hillary-, which isn’t as certain as I’d like, then maybe next time they’ll be up for someone reasonably sane. Since he is unlikely to bag the frothing ideologue vote, his chance is taking a punt on a Democrat winning this time and the GOP coming back to something closer to the middle. He’s positioning for that possibility.

  3. I agree that he has no chance of winning the primary, but he would do well in a general. He’s beating Hillary by 7 points in Ohio (that’s Quinnipiac and PPP), and Ohio is likely to be the tipping point state for 2016.

    For reasons that aren’t clear to me (perhaps it’s gun control), Clinton struggles in Colorado. If Republicans carry Florida and North Carolina, Ohio will be the state that make the most difference (no wonder they’re holding their convention there).

  4. Somewhere (Vox, I think) had an interesting article last week about how running for the Republican presidential nomination had turned into a path to wealth (at least relatively speaking). Between Fox news gigs, speaking fees, celebrity book deals, etc., being able to slap the “former presidential candidate” label onto yourself lets one cash in, to varying degrees.

  5. We’ve got George Pataki in the race. Here in New York, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who even remembers his 8 years as governor (other than the state civil service, who probably don’t remember him very fondly)

  6. We need Nate at 538 to do an analysis of which are running for real, which are running for the VP spot, which are running for next time, and which are just attention whores.

    Would make for an interesting read.

  7. Before politics became the place where reasonable conversation goes to die, it used to be that lesser-known candidates entered the race in order to bring a certain issue to the forefront. They could spend some money to run ads or give speeches about their pet issue, and then force the major candidates to have to respond, putting the issue on the national stage.

    I know nothing of Governor Kasich, but a part of me hopes that he (and ~12 of the other 15 candidates) are running for this (somewhat noble) purpose.

    But it’s probably for some perceived self-advancement, as discussed above…

  8. His logo is nothing to write home about, either. See this story on Medium to get a look at all the candidates’ logos and their subjective ranking. (TL;DR – Hillary’s is ranked best, followed by Scott Walker. Martin O’Malley, Rand Paul, and Jeb Bush round out the top 5.)

  9. It may also be that he thinks it’s worth the odds to go for it. Suppose you think he has ~1% chance to win the nom, and ~50% chance to win the presidency if he gets the nom. A 1-in-200 shot for something as valuable as the presidency might be worth it.

    Combine that with a backup plan of VP or even just assuming that if he does well in debates and such that opportunities will come, and it’s probably not a crazy thing to do.

    …Except for the part that running for national office for the next year plus has got to be miserable, and being President doesn’t seem like much fun either. But candidates presumably have a different view.

  10. Sec’y of the Treasury? In exchange for what – simply adding his name to the list of clowns in the car? I don’t think so. VP is his obvious goal. But I watched the first ten minutes of his announcement speech and was very unimpressed. If he can’t orate any better than that he isn’t going to make a very good running mate. But the GOP will risk that for Ohio, a huge prize in any presidential election. They probably think that that he could be trained in time for the VP debates.

  11. Right now, I think Governor Kasich’s main problem is that Lopsided Cat is about to leap over the banner and feast on his brains. Cats skew libertarian as we all know (and yet benefit the most from welfare subsidies–cognitive dissonance and all that.)

  12. Is it just me or does he kind of look like W.H. Auden, especially around the eyes?

  13. What Angie said. They have to win Ohio, and anyone who is reasonably bright has figured that out. He’s hoping that someone who’s reasonably bright (HAH! I snort) gets the GOP nod, which makes Kasich look like he’d bring something to the party that they may not otherwise get.

  14. ” If a Christie/Kasich ticket happens, I’ll be front row to watch them yell at everyone.”

    Er, no. Christie is toast, he’s unlikely to make the first debate stage.

    Probably Jeb! vs Hilary. Great, the first presidential election I get to vote in, and it’s an 80s throwback.

    Though if Jeb! wins, leaving the country after I just got here seems a distinct possibility. Look at Wisconsin, Louisiana, etc etc etc for the unfetter disaster that is GOP “economic” policy.

  15. @Not the Reddit Chris S.: Now now, it’s not that bad, Bush v Clinton is only a 90s throwback.

    But re GOP “economics” you can add Kansas to your list of disasters. Not to mention the 2008 national meltdown under…now what was that president’s name again?

  16. @Jon

    President Amnesia (from the GOP side) I think.

    At least the music was slightly better in the 90s.

    With Walker’s economic record in Wisconsin and his threat to bomb Iran the day he is inaugurated, it looks like there isn’t going to be the normal 1-2 year grace period before a GOP administration starts a war and crashes the economy.

  17. National Journal has some thoughts on Kasich run. Not really hopeful. Kasich might make VP on a Cruz or Rubio ticket. If Christie or another anglo gets the top spot, they’re more likely to go for Martinez – female and hispanic, or the current gov of Nevada – hispanic, and doesn’t have a long enough record to totally alienate any particular segment of the electorate.

  18. If I were a GOP voter, I’d go for Kasich over Jindal, but that’s because I’ve seen the damage Jindal can do. Your gov sounds like a peach compared to mine.

  19. “boring competent conservative,” pretty much describes Mitt Romney (though he chose to campaign as condescending, xenophobic aristocrat). Kasich, much as I’d hate to see him in the job, would actually be a better president than almost any of the GOP contenders (damning with faint praise, I’m afraid). It may be as simple as that. Or maybe he’s campaigning to get his Fox news gig back, since the Lehman brothers thing didn’t work out so well….

  20. Trump for a third party candidate, maybe?

    I’ve consistently underestimated Trump – I didn’t expect him to run, and I didn’t expect him to do the FEC financial disclosure (even though I don’t believe a number that is on it). Is his ego big enough to go for a third party run? I hope so… he’ll strip enough of the wingnut vote off to ensure a democratic win.

    We’ll see after the first Hunger Games (sorry, Fox GOP candidate debate).

  21. Only in a world gone mad would Kasich be called ‘moderate’ But then, this is a world where corporate centrists like Clinton and Obama are labeled ‘socialist’ so by that yardstick maybe he is, and Mussolini is a libertarian.

  22. As a fellow Ohioan, I’ve been saying precisely this to my friends and family. Although I’ve been strongly opposed to a few things he’s done, he’s been a decent governor. But he’s really in for the old trope “as goes Ohio, so goes the nation”. Bonus points: the RNC is in Cleveland next year.

  23. @Jonathon Laden, as a Massachusetts citizen I’d have to take issue with your description of Romney. He was maginally competent, at best. And that was before he started positioning himself for his first run at the presidency by mocking the state he was governor of, and otherwise telling us to fuck off because he had better things to do with his attention.

    As far as the Republican clown car is concerned, yeah, I’m guessing that most of them are just in it for the chance at a wingnut welfare payoff.

    One of these days, if I get bored enough, I’ll go through the list to see how many this time claim that God wants them to run.

  24. @ Bearpaw – I think the list of those who said God wanted them to run is all of them, apart from Trump, because he told God to support him.

    It begs the question, is there one God per candidate, or is She just trolling?

  25. I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumors, but Depeche Mode think God has a sick sense of humor.

  26. I’m from your district and I had almost exactly the same thoughts about him… until I started to read more about him specifically. Your statement that “we rarely think of him at all” is telling; we’ve been able to ignore him and experience him as if he were a bureaucrat, when he’s actually pretty bizarre personally. I mean, in the past, the man has shut the press, and any recording devices, out of public policy announcements. He won’t be able to do that as a national candidate. He may be the least destructive Republican to have in an office, but he might also be a serious liability on the campaign trail.

    Besides, he’s the only Republican candidate who expresses any sense of duty to the poor. No big donor will risk letting him on a ticket, even as a sidekick.

  27. As an Ohioan, you know, Kaisich hasn’t been terrible. As a lifelong avowed lefty, he leaves me cold. Especially on reproductive rights.
    But, I happened to share a Southwest flight…. A packed one…. With him and his aide. Sat across the aisle from him. He talked to me for nearly the whole flight. I was impressed. Smart cookie. And he put up with talking to a nobody who wears his radicalism on his sleeve, and I am not shy about it. Interesting experience.

  28. Isn’t the clown car already full?

    He’s probably going for Fox contract, with veep followed by Fox contract as acceptable alternative. Or lobbyist, think tank, boards of directors — all the easy election-adjacent money.

    Definitely too moderate for the primaries, and he doesn’t have enough money to buy ads, suck up to Iowa and New Hampshire, etc. At this point, is he even going to make the debates? Isn’t Fox going by poll numbers/publicity to choose?

  29. From here in Ireland all the candidates seem very similar to each other, in BOTH parties. Likewise the differences between the policies of President Obama and (either) President Bush. Whether that’s good or bad is quite another question.

  30. Some discussion of Kasich, with much very silly and some touching history, by the very sharp commentator Digby. Shorter version: he’s nuts, but not as nuts as most of the Republicans already running, and he does have something of a heart, or at least can listen to the voters when they scream at him. Go read it; it’s worth the trouble.

  31. @Bearpaw, “he started positioning himself for his first run at the presidency by mocking the state he was governor of” – I don’t think “competent conservative” precludes being an asshole. Romney’s record outside of politics suggests competence, if nothing else, both at Bain and the Olympics. (And I’ve heard good things about Romney care :->.) I thought his greatest sin in Massachusetts was that he ran (for senate and for governor!) as a moderate, to the left of his father, then governed to the right. That, and the binders full of women…

  32. These 2 year elections are too long. It wont be long until people are running campaign ads during the inaugural.

  33. As a resident of Wisconsin, I have somewhat similar thoughts about Walker, at least on his actual prospects to win a general election. Walker is every bit the disingenuous, political hitman that he appears to be from the outside. Since he became Governor in Wisconsin about 80% of what the Republican party has been to consolidate power. Redistricting by the Republican majority in 2010 essentially locked in their ongoing majorities in both houses of the legislature. Congressional districts were gerrymandered to limit Democratic representation in Congress.

    The so called “budget repair bill” or Act 10 actually tore the hole in the budget that it simultaneously “repaired” by cutting the take home pay of teachers and other public employees (except for those law enforcement public employees who endorsed Walker himself). The same bill included non-fiscal provisions which made it nearly impossible to maintain a public sector union, even when a majority of the people who voted supported the union (Act 10 requires 51% of the total work unit to support a union, so abstentions count as “no” votes, and even simple majorities of 50.9% count as a rejection of representation.) Removal of union authority to withhold dues from checks defunded the union’s PACs, diminishing their financial support for Walker’s opponents. Wisconsin is now also a right to work state, further diminishing union power and funding sources for Walker’s political opponents. What else? He rejected billions in federal dollars for high speed rail, which Illinois then took to begin construction of a route from Chicago to the Twin Cities that bypassed Wisconsin. That decision resulted in a high speed rail car company leaving Milwaukee and successfully suing the state for breach of contract. He rejected federal dollars for the expansion of medicare and contracted Wisconsin’s “BadgerCare” program, forcing the poor and disabled into the marketplace which Wisconsin refused to run itself. In this budget cycle he’s cut scientific staff from the Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin’s agency whose job it is to protect our water, air and land. This after he supported a mining bill written by mining companies and who complained that the DNR was still “too green.” He also cut 250 million from Wisconsin’s university system, and for a time at least, tried to remove language from the University of Wisconsin’s mission statement that indicated it’s primary duty was the “search for truth.” That, along with a recent attempt to gut Wisconsin’s open records law, was abandoned when the blowback got too powerful. This budget cycle also amended the tenure system for UW professors, which, not unlike Act 10 did with teachers and other public employees, appears to be sending quality professors to the exit doors as they look to move out of state to universities where they’ll enjoy academic freedom.

    Walker is a disaster for Wisconsin, and he’d be a similar disaster for the country. But he’s exactly the kind of candidate that could very well come out of the Republican primary season. My hope, as a Wisconsinite, is that either he comes out of this process so damaged politically we can finally drive a stake through his heart in 3 years, or more likely, he does well enough that he gets the nomination but loses the general and concludes there’s so much money to be made outside of Wisconsin in the nether regions of the Republican ideas apparatus that being Governor of Wisconsin is no longer of interest. As a Wisconsinite, I’m sorry we weren’t able to end this guy’s career before he got this far. I certainly hope the rest of the country is able to see through him the way a majority of Wisconsinites failed to do (although in our defense, the candidates put by the Democrats in 2010, 2012 and 2014 were so weak that I wasn’t surprised they lost even though I voted for them).

  34. I asked my Ohio cousins what they thought of him, as a NJ resident I have seen that out of state views of a Governor by the national media are normally way off base
    As a former UK resident, the endless circus for an election that doesn’t happen till November NEXT YEAR, is to my mind pointless

  35. As an Ohioan, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at Kasich’s term in office, I expected much worse from him but he’s mostly governed as a moderate bureaucrat (which isn’t great, but beats the trickle down inspired gutting of the budget I was expecting). I really do hope he comes up with a better selling point than “I’m a Wall Street insider who understands how the system works” because that isn’t exactly a recommendation. Probably doesn’t matter anyhow, he’s not nutty enough for the wingnuts, not charismatic enough to sway the undecided, can’t deliver women or minorities particularly well (he hasn’t really alienated them either, so that’s a plus) and doesn’t seem to have a particularly interesting platform (at least, he didn’t when running for governor, I don’t expect that to change). Poor guy hasn’t got a chance. I’m not even convinced he has a real shot at VP.

  36. To the limited extent that government creates prosperity, Mr. Kasich is at least 50% responsible for the economic expansion of the 1990s. His experience in Congress and as a governor mean that he has the legislative and executive experience needed to be President.

    He ain’t perfect by a long shot, but he is better than the rest of the field GOP or Dem. And yes I’ve been waiting for him to run for President for years.

    Although I have to agree that I hate having election season begin a year and a half before the actual election. There are so many better things to think about!


  37. uleaguehub says:
    JULY 21, 2015 AT 1:03 PM

    ::koff:: “Conservatism” ::koff::

    There ain’t a conservationist in the whole GOP lineup, so far’s I can tell.

    Erm – perhaps you’re using a different dictionary, but “conservative” and “conservationist” are not the same thing. In fact, a lot of conservationists are fairly radical.

  38. @znepj
    Erm – perhaps you’re using a different dictionary, but “conservative” and “conservationist” are not the same thing

    If you look way up, above your head, into the sky, you’ll see a distant object passing over. This object is called a “joke.”

  39. David, Znepj:

    I had made a misspelling and he was playing with that. I fixed the error; you’re both responding to someone who was helping me out.

  40. Scalzi – Bruce Coville, who’s a friend of ours, is actually worried about Kasich should he actually get out of the primaries with a whole skin, because he is “the reasonable choice”.

    I linked him to this post to talk him down….

  41. [Deleted because suggesting the actual murder of a politician, even one I don’t particularly like, crosses a line — JS]

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