Although Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump had blowout wins in last Tuesday’s New Hampshire Primary, winning 60.4% and 35.3% of their respective parties’ votes, Ohio Governor, John Kasich, also walked away from the night feeling victorious after placing second with 15.8% of the vote. Kasich’s bet-it-all strategy in New Hampshire included more than 100 town halls since he announced his candidacy last July. Largely ignoring Iowa to instead focus on the Granite State, Kasich vowed to suspend his presidential bid if he performed badly in the primary.
Fortunately for him, that was not the case, and Kasich is now on the campaign trail in South Carolina, hoping that momentum will propel him to success in next Saturday’s primary (February 20). Throughout the campaign, Kasich has characterized as the positive candidate who wants to spend more time discussing his own record rather than attacking the others who still in the race. Acknowledging the success of this strategy, Kasich said in a speech after the New Hampshire Primary, “tonight, the light overcame the darkness.”
In South Carolina, perhaps the biggest obstacle for Kasich is the fight with other candidates to be the establishment’s favorite. With businesswoman Carly Fiorina and New Jersey governor, Christie, already out of the race, Kasich’s main opponents are now Senator Marco Rubio and Govenor, Jeb Bush, who finished fourth and fifth respectively in New Hampshire. Having performed so well in New Hampshire, Kasich is now a more frequent target of his rivals, who criticize him mainly for his expansion of Medicaid in Ohio.
So long as Kasich has the resources to sustain his campaign until the Midwest primaries in mid-March, he could be on the road to securing his party’s nomination. But before then, Donald Trump needs to be defeated, and it seems the only way that will happen is if the GOP establishment stands behind a single candidate.
Kasich is trying his best not to jump into the constant bickering that has thus far distinguished the Republican field in 2016.
As Kasich said to George Stephanopoulos when asked about the recent GOP debate: “It was like a demolition derby, but the good news is my car’s still going around the circuit.”