Sources close to Ohio Gov. John Kasich says he plans to suspend his candidacy for president Wednesday leaving only Donald Trump as the only Republican in the race.
After picking up zero delegates in the Indiana primary Tuesday, the Kasich campaign initially seemed optimistic, vowing to stay in the race for a contested convention in July. The campaign even tweeted out this Star Wars promo video early Wednesday morning:
But by mid-morning, after failing to show up for a press meeting at Dulles International Airport, Governor Kasich's tune had changed. According to a senior campaign adviser, Kasich plans to end his presidential bid during a statement at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio.
Kasich's campaign has long branded him as the only Republican candidate who could beat the presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton head-to-head. And this is more than a campaign spin: the suggestion bears out in the polls. As of Wednesday, the poll aggregator RealClearPolitics has Kasich beating Ms. Clinton by seven points in a hypothetical general election, and both Republican presidential candidates Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump lose by double digits in the same matchup.
"A conventional candidate in an unconventional race, Mr. Kasich outlasted the other governors in the Republican field," writes Thomas Kaplan for The New York Times. "But his longevity was largely a testament to his unbending refusal to drop out long after it became clear that voters were not flocking to his campaign."
In other words, Kasich, as the most recent candidate to drop out of the Republican presidential race, held on out of sheer determination, not support.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the presidential race after losing his home state's primary in March, picked up 171 delegates during his campaign. But Kasich, despite having only 153 delegates as of May – and only winning his home state of Ohio – stayed in the race almost two months longer.
Kasich has been mathematically eliminated from winning the nomination outright for a long time. So why drop out now?
The Ohio governor may have taken cues from fellow candidate Senator Cruz, who dropped out of the race Tuesday night. Kasich and Cruz announced a formal campaign alliance late last month to stop Donald Trump and force a contested convention: Kasich would give Cruz a clear path in Indiana and in return Cruz would stay away from Oregon and New Mexico. Considering that polls showed Cruz had a reasonable chance in Indiana before the primary, Kasich may not be feeling as optimistic about their allocation plan.
And Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, tweeted that Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee Tuesday night.
Mr. Priebus' tweet signaled a shift in the Republican party, as party elites realize they have a better chance of winning the White House by backing Trump rather than banking on a contested convention with Kasich.
"It's going to take some time, but we're going to get there," Priebus told CNN Wednesday.