Kasich won Ohio, but so what?
© Getty Images

John Kasich won Ohio! So what?

Sorry, I can't summon up another opening line. I don't have to remind everybody that John Kasich is the Republican governor of Ohio. He was supposed to win his own state primary. You don't have to be Mark Shields to figure that out. In addition, Kasich is a very popular governor. His approval rating is near 80 percent — that's unbelievable in this day and age, when the cynicism and hostility toward elected officials is so high and so intense.

ADVERTISEMENT
It should be noted that Kasich has never lost an election in Ohio. That includes the state legislature and nine elections to the U.S. House of Representatives. In his last election for governor, he won 86 of 88 Ohio counties. Truly amazing. With all that on his side, the outcome in the Ohio primary was still in doubt. And then he only won by about 8 percentage points.

No one thought Democratic front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonStopping Robert Mueller to protect us all Hillary Clinton hits Trump, pulls out Russian hat during Yale speech Giuliani: Mueller plans to wrap up Trump obstruction probe by Sept. 1 MORE was in trouble in Arkansas or Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersHarvard law professor: Impeachment could worsen political dysfunction, polarization Gun control debate shifts to hardening schools after Texas shooting Bernie Sanders: NRA to blame for lack of action on gun control MORE in trouble in Vermont. Compare Kasich's margin to Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTed Cruz and Bill Nelson give NASA a reality check on privatizing International Space Station Ten dead after shooting at Texas high school Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers MORE's (R) in his home state of Texas. The point of all this is simply that those who do not want Trump to be the Republican nominee are desperate — no, let's change that — are frantic to hold on to a scintilla of evidence that Trump is fading.

What Kasich did do was provide a pause button for the nomination. If he had lost Ohio, no imaginable scenario could have been created to stop Trump. Now, at least you have the faint specter of a convention in Cleveland, where perhaps Trump is denied on the first ballot.

But Kasich won't be the nominee. Where is he going to win again? Let's be kind and generous: Maybe Wisconsin, maybe Pennsylvania, maybe Oregon, even New York. He finished second in the District of Columbia caucus to Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCongress — when considering women’s health, don’t forget about lung cancer Anti-Maduro Venezuelans not unlike anti-Castro Cubans of yore Tax reform postmortem reveals lethal dose of crony capitalism MORE (R-Fla.) on Saturday, so I assume the Rubio supporters will go to Kasich. But in the final analysis, the numbers won't add up for Kasich. He did a mitzvah (a good deed). He stayed in and provided a sane alternative.

But the Republican Party is no longer composed of moderates and centrists, and hasn't been for some time. It's been taken over by the angry, rabid right, which has now shown that an unmoored demagogue can appeal to its basest instincts.

When Ted Cruz is the likely alternative, that really speaks volumes. To stop Trump, if that should actually happen, it will take a whole lot more than Kasich winning Ohio. A new savior needs to emerge. Someone who is not now an announced candidate — a new consensus Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanStudents arrested protesting gun violence outside Paul Ryan’s office Parkland father calls out Trump, McConnell, Ryan after Santa Fe shooting GOP revolts multiply against retiring Ryan MORE-type needs to be recruited and drafted. And this can only occur if Trump is denied the necessary 1,237 delegates for a first-ballot victory in Cleveland.

But I don't believe the Republicans of today desire to make any other choice but Trump. They will pay for it in November.

Plotkin is a political analyst, a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner.