Here's why Donald Trump wants John Kasich out of race

Donald Trump is making that assertion. But it's hard to tell whether Kasich is hurting him – or perhaps even helping.

Julie Jacobson/AP
Republican presidential candidate John Kasich speaks during a campaign stop at Hofstra University Monday in Hempstead, N.Y.

Donald Trump thinks the Republican National Committee should kick John Kasich out of the presidential nomination race.

It’s unfair that Ohio Governor Kasich is still competing, since he has no mathematical chance of winning the GOP nomination outright, Mr. Trump said Sunday in Wisconsin.

“Kasich shouldn’t be allowed to continue, and the RNC shouldn’t allow him to continue,” Trump told reporters during a visit to a diner.

The billionaire reality show star said as much to RNC chief Reince Priebus during their meeting last week. Trump complained that Kasich’s continued presence hurts him disproportionately, since more Kasich voters have Trump as their second choice than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

“If I didn’t have Kasich, I automatically win,” Trump said.

Is this true?

Strictly speaking, no. Trump’s not on the verge of an automatic victory if it’s suddenly just him and Senator Cruz. His path to the 1,237 delegates necessary to win the nomination is a narrow one under any circumstances. He might reach that goal. He might not.

But some experts do think Trump’s chances of victory would improve if Kasich drops out.

This isn’t because the Ohio governor is favored to win any upcoming states. Nor is it strictly because his voters might migrate to Trump if he dropped out.

It’s primarily because a few states that haven’t yet voted award their delegates proportionately, and Kasich could win a precious few of those supporters. Seventy-seven, to be more precise. That’s the number of delegates the data site FiveThirtyEight estimates Kasich might yet pick up, considering district demographics and his poll numbers.

“They may not sound like much, but these 77 delegates could be the difference between Trump reaching 1,237 and falling short,” wrote FiveThirtyEight’s David Wasserman late last month.

But that’s only one view. Others think Trump is actually helped by Kasich remaining in the race. That’s because it splits the anti-Trump vote. Allowed to compete with Trump directly, Cruz might win more states outright.

“Trump has benefited immensely from the fractured Republican field,” wrote RealClearPolitics election guru Sean Trende last month.

So there you have it. Trump may sincerely believe that Kasich is blocking him, but that remains unproven.

One thing is clear, though: It’s rich for Trump to call on the RNC to arbitrarily expel Kasich. He’s the one who’s warned the Republican Party against using its powers to influence the race. Of course, that’s because he doesn’t want them to try and “steal” the election from him. But strong-arming the person now in third place? That’s OK, apparently.

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