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These Republicans Forge an Alliance ... Sort Of

Donald Trump
Ted Cruz and John Kasich have adopted a "Divide and Conquer" approach to preventing Donald Trump from winning the Republican presidential nomination. (Reuters photo)

Will "Divide and Conquer" work now after it's failed so many times before?

In a move eerily similar to when U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) encouraged his supporters in Ohio to back Gov. John Kasich in order to prevent a Donald Trump sweep earlier in the Republican presidential nomination cycle, the campaigns of Kasich and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have come to a similar arrangement. The "alliance" between the campaigns, which can now only hope for a contested convention to prevent Trump's nomination, was announced over the weekend.

"Having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in November would be a sure disaster for Republicans," Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe said in a statement to the media. "Not only would Trump get blown out by Clinton or Sanders, but having him as our nominee would set the party back a generation.

"To ensure that we nominate a Republican who can unify the Republican Party and win in November, our campaign will focus its time and resources in Indiana and, in turn, clear the path for Gov. Kasich to compete in Oregon and New Mexico, and we would hope that allies of both campaigns would follow our lead. In other states holding their elections for the remainder of the primary season, our campaign will continue to compete vigorously to win."

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On Tuesday, the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island will go to the polls. Connecticut, with 28 delegates, is a winner-take-most state—the last with that method of delegate allocation—while Rhode Island awards its 19 proportionally.

The other three states award their delegates in a winner-take-all fashion, with another 125 delegates—16 in Delaware, 38 in Maryland, and 71 in Pennsylvania—at stake among them. According to current polling averages, Trump is leading by 20 points in Pennsylvania, and by 15 points in Maryland; he is expected to win the other three states handily, as well.

One conservative estimate suggested he could win as many as 160 of the 172 delegates at stake on Tuesday.

The remaining calendar of GOP nominating contests is:

  • May 3—Indiana (57, winner-take-all)
  • May 10—Nebraska (36, winner-take-all) and West Virginia (34, direct election of delegates)
  • May 17—Oregon (28, proportional)
  • May 24—Washington (44, proportional)
  • June 7—California (172, winner-take-all statewide and by district), Montana (27, winner-take-all), New Jersey (51, winner-take-all), New Mexico (24, proportional), and South Dakota (29, winner-take-all)

In Indiana, Trump is leading Cruz by a little more than 6 points, but Kasich is polling just under 20 percent.

It is a dangerous ploy for the Cruz campaign. New Mexico and Oregon both being proportional states means Trump will win at least some of the delegates in each, but even if they succeed in minimizing his pickups in all three states, he still has a logistical pathway to 1,237 delegates, based on current polling.

"We are very comfortable with our delegate position in Indiana already, and given the current dynamics of the primary there, we will shift our campaign resource's West and give the Cruz campaign a clear path in Indiana," Kasich campaign strategist John Weaver said. "In turn, we will focus our time and resources in New Mexico and Oregon, both areas that are structurally similar to the Northeast politically, where Gov. Kasich is performing well."

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