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Eye On Candidates
April 15, 2016

Observations and advice for Republican candidates

Conservative policy and political commentator Ramesh Ponnuru has an interesting article at this morning, offering several observations and pieces of advice for each of the three remaining candidates. Here's a sample of his comments:

Some Free Advice for Trump, Cruz and Kasich

The Republican nomination race has three more stages to go, and each of the three candidates left in it is concentrating on a different one.

First, the candidates have to win votes in the remaining contests to maximize the number of delegates bound to them on the first ballot. Second, they have to prevail in selecting delegates: making sure that their bound delegates stay with them on subsequent ballots should any occur, and that unbound delegates side with them. Third, they need to get delegates who are not with them to like them, so that they might vote for them on later ballots.

Donald Trump has so far put all his effort into the first step. In part that’s because he has been unwilling to spend money to build an organization, which he would have needed to compete in stages two and three. But while he has done well in the primaries, he has not done well enough to dispense with wrangling delegates. It is now very late for him to begin....

Ted Cruz has not neglected any of the three tasks in the contest. He has excelled at the second, as Trump has been belatedly learning. The Texas senator (who is a friend of mine) seems to be doing well at the third, too.

Cruz’s big test will be in showing major improvement between the first and second ballots, assuming there is a second. Otherwise he runs the risk that a majority of delegates will decide they don’t love him and don’t need him to dispose of Trump, and these sentiments will combine to create the self-fulfilling impression that he’s not going anywhere. But Cruz’s methodical campaign is almost certainly planning for this contingency among others.

Ohio Governor John Kasich has to hope the balloting continues past two rounds. His strategy rests on converting delegates on later ballots. This week Kasich got a double assist from Paul Ryan. Kasich’s chances are sufficiently slim that he was effectively competing with the House speaker. With Ryan having ruled himself out as a nominee, Kasich is very nearly the only plausible champion for Republicans who don’t want Trump or Cruz.

There are some terrific insights in the piece, particularly regarding Kasich's long-shot strategy, and it's well worth the time to read the entire article.