By Stuart Rothenberg – – – –
Feel free to believe that there is a glimmer of hope for Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination. If that gives you comfort or plays to your own preferences, be my guest. I certainly wouldn’t want to make you uncomfortable.
But even if you believe that, try also to understand that Kasich’s campaign is done. You can stick a fork in it. He will not be the GOP nominee for president in 2016. Recent endorsements from two New England newspapers prove that.
Kasich continues to plug away in New Hampshire, hoping that lightning will strike and he surprises onlookers by finishing ahead of the other pragmatic candidates in the GOP primary.
I suppose his standing in the January 17-23 New Hampshire NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Republican primary poll, which found him bunched with Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz and fighting for second place, could give his supporters a false sense of optimism.
But with Rubio pulling away from the pack in Iowa to establish himself as an alternative to Donald Trump and Cruz, Kasich has a ridiculously uphill struggle. Even if Kasich surprises in the Granite State and finishes ahead of Rubio there, the Ohio governor simply has not shown the appeal – or put together the campaign elsewhere – that he would need to become a true contender in the Republican race.
Kasich may be correct that name recognition remains a big problem, but his bigger problem is that he continues to be the favorite Republican candidate of Democrats, liberals and members of the media.
Last week, the Boston Globe endorsed Kasich, praising him as “pragmatic” and calling him a “moderate conservative.” The next day, the Concord Monitor, not exactly an icon of conservative editorial policy, endorsed him. And two days later, Roll Call columnist Walter Shapiro also had very kind words for Kasich.
The fact that Kasich has drawn compliments or endorsements from these observers guarantees that he cannot be nominated by the Republican Party this year. They don’t reflect the GOP electorate, and they aren’t looking for the kind of nominee – the kind of president – that most Republicans would prefer.
Who did the Globe and the Monitor endorse in 2012, you might very well be wondering? Both newspapers endorsed Jon Huntsman, the least conservative Republican candidate in the race. Huntsman put all his eggs in the New Hampshire basket and finished third in the GOP primary. He dropped out of the race after the primary.
As I have written at least as far back as 2007, endorsements from politicians and newspapersare not very significant in high profile races, and you don’t get any more high profile than a presidential contest. Voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, in particular, see so much of the candidates that they can make their own judgments. They don’t need some editorial writer or columnist to tell them who they should support.
The endorsements by the Globe, the Monitor and a handful of liberal columnists are not going to kill Kasich’s candidacy. They merely reflect why his prospects in the race have always been regarded as so poor. To win the Republican nomination, a candidate needs to appeal to Republicans.