Kasich Finishes 2nd in N.H., Heads to S.C.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Faced with a virtual do-or-die situation Tuesday, Ohio Gov. John Kasich survived to head to South Carolina, having finished in second place in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary.

Kasich garnered15.9% of the vote, behind real estate mogul and reality show host Donald Trump, who won 35.1% of the vote. Rounding out the top five were U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, 11.6%, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 11.1%, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, with 10.6% of the vote.

The remainder of the GOP field finished in single digits.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont won 60% of the vote to 38.4% for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Polling in recent weeks had shown Kasich gaining momentum in New Hampshire, where he had been a constant presence in the weeks leading up to the primary.

“Gov. Kasich is now the leading governor in the race and the only one with a realistic chance at the nomination,” said John Weaver, senior strategist for the campaign, in an email that arrived shortly after 9 p.m. “He showed that a conservative with a positive message will succeed and, in fact, that’s the only way for Republicans to win the White House. As the governor of Ohio he knows how to do it.”

Kasich’s email came as just under 30% of the New Hampshire ballots had been counted and after Trump had already been declared the winner of the primary.

New Day for America, the super PAC supporting Kasich’s candidacy, also released a statement Tuesday night touting the New Hampshire results.

“Throughout this campaign, John Kasich’s optimistic vision for our country set him apart from the other candidates in this race, and the voters just rewarded him for it,” said Matt Carle, New Day’s executive director.

“For months, the media, political pundits and other campaigns attempted to write his political obituary. Undoubtedly, these same people will now say John Kasich doesn’t have the resources or the organization to win,” he continued. “It seems the more people doubt John Kasich, the stronger he gets.”

The Kasich campaign announced that the candidate was headed to South Carolina, “where he will hit the ground running leading up to the state’s Feb. 20 primary.” According to the email, the Ohio governor “is in a key position to accumulate delegates in the early primary calendar before winning Michigan and taking the nomination battle to the Midwest, the home turf where he will win the nomination.”

Kasich’s second-place showing sets him up as a potential alternative for so-called establishment Republicans concerned that either Trump or Cruz, who won the Iowa caucuses, could cost the party in a general election. Both have made inflammatory statements or hold positions party leader fear could cost them support among key groups.

Analysts had pegged Rubio as a potential establishment alternative following an unexpectedly strong finish in Iowa. A poor debate performance Saturday night that was widely panned as robotic stunted the campaign’s momentum coming out of Iowa and prevented him from capitalizing on his showing there.

“I want you to understand something. Our disappointment tonight is not on you, it’s on me. It is on me,” Rubio told supporters Tuesday night.

“I did not do well on Saturday night — listen to this: that will never happen again. That will never happen again,” he continued. “Let me tell you why it will never happen again. It’s not about me, it’s not about this campaign, it is about this election. It’s about what’s at stake in this election.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.