John Kasich may have lost big in the New York primary on Tuesday night, but he didn’t walk away empty handed.
He won a handful of delegates and beat Donald Trump in his home borough of Manhattan by more than 800 votes, according to unofficial results.
“I think expectations were low enough for him, he was able to exceed them,” said Jared Kamrass, a political consultant with Rivertown Strategies. “He was able to pull a few delegates for the first time since the Ohio primary. He had gone a month without pulling any delegates.”
Trump was the overwhelming winner, taking 60.5 percent of the vote. But Kasich secured 25.1 percent to keep Cruz at a distant third. Cruz, who once criticized “New York values,” on the campaign trail, won zero delegates in the Empire State and 14.5 percent of the vote.
“We were not expecting to win New York. That’s Trump’s backyard,” said Gary Cates, a former Ohio state senator and die-hard Kasich supporter.
In a few New York congressional districts, Kasich was able to keep Trump to below the 50 percent mark, meaning he would take one delegate in each place. Early voting results from the Associated Press gave 3 delegates to Kasich and 89 to Trump.
“It was a fantastic result for Trump, not just according to the delegates, but to decisively win that state,” said University of Cincinnati political science professor David Niven. “Kasich did win three delegates -- that happened. I think the dream would have been to deny Trump a decisive victory, and that didn’t happen,”
Yet Kasich’s second-place finish may invigorate his effort to brand himself as the Trump alternative.
After Cruz won big in the Wisconsin primary on April 5, he became the #neverTrump candidate, and said he was the only viable choice for Republicans who didn’t like the entrepreneur and former reality television star.
Now Kasich is hoping to steal that role, and hopefully pick up some new GOP endorsements in the next week, Kamrass said.
“The person who lost last night is Cruz, because he was promoting himself as the anti-Trump candidate,” Cates said. “I do not think he will do well in the upcoming Tuesday primaries.”
The next round of primaries on April 26 are in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island and Maryland. Since these states are similar to New York, experts predict near identical results.
“The I-95 corridor primaries that are next week … I think Kasich will do very well there,” Kamrass said. “I don’t think he’ll come in third in any of those states. I think, all in all, we’re looking at a lot of second-place finishes.”
Cates traveled to Pittsburgh to campaign for Kasich last weekend, and is heading to the suburbs of Philadelphia this weekend to do the same.
“A lot of people said they had still not made up their minds yet but were looking toward the governor,” said Cates, who also campaigned for Kasich in New Hampshire, Michigan and Wisconsin.
“(Pittsburgh) was the most effective phone calling I’ve done since New Hampshire,” Cates said. “I’m hoping that this weekend in Philadelphia we’ll have more of same. There are some ripe areas to pick off delegates.”