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.
No one thought Democratic front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonMnuchin: Trump has 'perfect genes' Live coverage: Trump, GOP scramble for ObamaCare votes RNC paid little-known firm for reports on Clinton: report MORE was in trouble in Arkansas or Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersStunning polls show Sanders soaring while 'TrumpCare' crashes The Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee MORE in trouble in Vermont. Compare Kasich's margin to Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzHow 'Big Pharma' stifles pharmaceutical innovation AIPAC must reach out to President Trump Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support 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 RubioSenators introduce new Iran sanctions Senate intel panel has not seen Nunes surveillance documents: lawmakers With no emerging leaders, no clear message, Democrats flounder 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 RyanWhite House: Vote at 3:30; Trump left 'everything on field' Pelosi: GOP will need 215 votes to pass health bill Democratic rep: GOP stands for 'Get Old People' 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.