Kasich scores big anti-Trump win in Ohio
Ohio Gov. John Kasich denied Donald Trump a winner-take-all primary victory by winning his home state Tuesday night.
“You better believe it’s about America pulling us together, not pulling us apart,” Kasich said in his victory speech as voters chanted his name and “USA! USA! USA!”
Early exit polls showed significant Democratic crossover and a split between professionals, who voted for Kasich, and working-class whites, who heavily backed Trump as they generally have throughout the 2016 GOP race.
Late deciders broke for Kasich by a wide margin, with Trump a distant second, Ted Cruz in third and Marco Rubio in the low single digits. While the billionaire has tended to perform badly among late-deciding voters, the lopsidedness of this result suggests anti-Trump strategic voting was a factor in Ohio and that Kasich was a major beneficiary.
But Trump has an appeal to Ohio’s blue-collar voters and has been active there. A local Republican leader told the Washington Examiner before the vote that he expected the race to draw more Democrats and independents than any GOP presidential primary in Ohio since the 2000 contest between George W. Bush and John McCain, as swing voters headed to the polls to alternately stop or boost Trump.
Kasich’s first win keeps his candidacy going, despite the fact he has frequently finished in third and fourth place in other primaries and caucuses. It also helps Republicans who would like to deny Trump the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination outright on the first ballot by keeping him from winning all of Ohio’s delegates.
In his remarks to supporters after winning the primary, Kasich tried to pitch himself as an alternative to Trump without mentioning the front-runner’s name. He was briefly heckled by a Trump supporter at the beginning of the speech.
The Republican National Convention will also be taking place in Ohio this summer, as delegates will gather in Cleveland to nominate a presidential candidate.