John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, didn’t make much of a splash when he first announced his campaign for the 2016 presidential election. He landed in the middle of Trump-mania, when even front-running candidates like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker were losing valuable percentage points in the polls to Trump’s combination of celebrity and headline-grabbing comments.
Despite it all, Kasich squeezed his way into Fox News’s prime-time debate on Aug. 6 and will likely make it into CNN’s Reagan Presidential Debate on Sept. 16. Though he appeared soft-spoken next to Donald Trump and Rand Paul, he came across as a straight shooter who tells the truth and does what the people need even when it is politically inconvenient to do so.
This arguably makes Kasich the most electable candidate in the GOP field.
In his most recent gubernatorial election in Ohio, he had a landslide win with 64 percent of the vote. Most notably, Kasich accepted Medicaid expansion from the Affordable Care Act in Ohio, a decision that he has been hounded for by his opponents as well as conservative thinkers who are ideologically opposed to the ACA.
In an interview from last October, he said that the opposition to the Affordable Care Act “was really either political or ideological. I don’t think that holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people’s lives.”
Kasich is the kind of candidate who could be conservative enough for Republican primary voters, while also not too partisan for independents and centrist democrats to see his appeal.
He believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, but recognizes that the Supreme Court has made its ruling and that it’s time to move on. He has the same kind of appeal that Chris Christie has with his business-friendly background and straightforward approach to politics, but Kasich has avoided the awkward personal and public scandals that Christie has been plagued with.
The main issue with Kasich is the question that has become an issue for the GOP in recent years: can any candidate who is moderate enough to have a chance at winning the general election also have a chance at winning Republican primary against a base that is shifting even further to the right?
It’s not an easy question to answer and it’s unclear if the answer is yes. Especially when Kasich is facing off against candidates like Trump, Paul and Senator Ted Cruz who grab for headlines like the last breadstick at Olive Garden. It’s going to be a long road for Kasich to achieve victory in Republican primaries without stooping down to their level of sensationalism.
But there’s still hope. Kasich’s progress has been good so far, and he has been gaining fast in New Hampshire, where some polls have him all the way up in second place behind Trump. This is going to be a long election, and as long as Kasich continues the strategy that won him so many supporters from both parties in his home state of Ohio, he could have a very real shot at winning the nomination.
Eitan Snyder is a sophomore majoring in music business.
Featured image courtesy Flickr user Brian Timmermeister