What was John Kasich doing there on Tuesday night, and why did he seem so happy? Yes, the governor of Ohio had just won the primary in his home state. But it was his first and only win in 37 contests to date, and it came on the same night that it became mathematically impossible for Kasich to earn a majority of delegates before the Republican convention in July. Even if he were to win 100 percent of the vote in every primary and caucus remaining, there are simply not enough delegates left on the table.
Yet Kasich was jubilant as he took the stage in a Cleveland suburb, in front of a marquee reading “As Goes Ohio, So Goes the Nation.” (Nobody outside of Ohio ever says this, and the saying originally comes from a reference to Maine.) He recounted having tried to slip into a local restaurant, only to be greeted by cheers. “To have people believe in you, and to believe that you can bring people together and strengthen our country—I have to thank the people of the great state of Ohio,” he said. “I love you.”
That Kasich is one of the last three candidates remaining in the Republican race is a result few would have foreseen at its outset. In a year of dark mutterings and angry fulminations, Kasich has distinguished himself with a relentlessly positive message, cheekily dubbing himself the “Prince of Light” at one point. But he is not still in the race by dint of any particular success, as evidenced by his delegate count; he is there by dint of sheer stubbornness. He won’t get out, so he’s still in.