Newspapers love Kasich, but does anyone care?

Posted at 7:00 AM, Apr 18, 2016

The blistering New York Daily News editorial practically begged voters to pick John Kasich.

“Kasich’s qualifications are all the clearer — screamingly so — when matched against those of competitors Donald Trump and Ted Cruz,” the paper’s editorial board wrote on April 14. “Both men would be disastrous as president.”

Yet as polls open Tuesday in New York’s primary, Trump is expected to win the state by an enormous lead, with Kasich a distant second and Cruz not far behind. 

By now, Kasich has collected more than three dozen gushing endorsements from newspapers across the nation. But he has failed to win any primary other than Ohio, and experts predict that losing streak will continue.

“This is a year where endorsements just don’t matter across the board,” said Joe Valenzano, chairman of University of Dayton’s communications department and an expert on campaign rhetoric.

“People are upset with the government and they see the media as part of government,” he said. “Especially the Republican base that is angry with the state of affairs … it is not looking at rational arguments put forth by newspapermen.”

Michigan’s largest paper, the Detroit Free Press, favored Kasich as “the best outcome available.” Yet Kasich finished third in that primary behind Cruz in a state that one poll showed him winning.

Wisconsin’s largest paper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, endorsed Kasich as “the only Republican left in the race who actually could govern if he does win.” Yet he finished third and walked away without winning a single county or delegate in the primary.

Newspapers nationwide -- from the Dallas Morning News to the Boston Globe -- have endorsed Kasich. The New York Times endorsed him in January – three months ahead of New York’s primary.

Yet, RealClearPolitics has Trump polling with 53 percent of the GOP vote in New York. Kasich is a distant second with 23 percent and Cruz has 18 percent, in an average of polls taken over the past two weeks.

“Endorsements are good for a resume I guess but they are not really translating into votes,” said Dan Birdsong, a UD political science lecturer. “Why Kasich can’t break through could be lack of money or the attention others are getting, or maybe the electorate is so angry they don’t even hear him when he’s talking.”

While the endorsements are encouraging for Gary Cates, who has traveled to New Hampshire, Michigan and Wisconsin to campaign for Kasich, he isn’t sure how many people actually read them.

“Fewer and fewer people read newspaper editorials anymore,” said Cates, a West Chester Township resident and former Ohio representative. “But the editorials are reflections that people are paying attention, and they obviously recognize the clear difference between John Kasich and the other contenders. That’s reassuring, that I’m backing the right guy.”

Kasich’s Strategy

Cates went to Pittsburgh last weekend to campaign for Kasich ahead of the Pennsylvania primary on April 26.

He said he isn’t discouraged by the latest poll, which shows Kasich in third place there, despite it being his childhood home. He grew up in a blue-collar town outside of Pittsburgh, the son of a mailman.

“Right now every vote the governor picks up is one less vote for Donald Trump,” Cates said. “We’ll take the votes we can get and the ones we can’t; we won’t worry about it.”

With no candidate on target to collect the 1,237 delegates needed to win the GOP nomination outright, an open convention in Cleveland in July is a growing probability.

That’s where Kasich supporters think he could sway delegates to vote for him as the Republican nominee.

“I think his breakout moment will be in Cleveland,” Cates said. “This is like running a marathon. The only time it matters who is in first place is at the end of the race.”

So with each primary, Kasich tries to starve Trump of delegates.

In New York, the state’s 95 delegates become winner-take-all if a candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote. Otherwise, they are awarded on a proportional basis to the winner of each congressional district.

Polls predict Trump will win big in New York, and could take every delegate. Yet the endorsements keep rolling in for Kasich.

“We don’t even understand how the choice for the Republican nomination can be anything but crystal clear,” The Queens Tribune wrote in its April 14 editorial.

“One candidate stands above the rest with the right experience and tone needed to govern. That man is Ohio Governor John Kasich,” wrote the board of the free weekly newspaper based in Queens.