Which Republican presidential candidate will win the Ohio primary on 15 March? (update)

The current consensus forecast is that there is a 21% chance that either Cruz or Rubio will win Ohio. But it’s certainly time (for me, at any rate) to dispense with the fiction that either Cruz or Rubio has a chance worthy of the name. The polls have never favored either in this state, and they now project a less than 1% chance that either will win[a]. Furthermore, neither Rubio nor Cruz have especially interesting advantages in Ohio (i.e., they don’t hold elected office there, they weren’t born there, they haven’t lived there or gone to university there, they don’t run businesses that have large interests there, etc.), and Rubio has even told his supporters to vote for Kasich[b]!

But the Kasich and Drumpf match-up presents us with a real head-scratcher. The aggregate of polls suggests the two are in a dead heat[c], though when one takes endorsements into consideration, Kasich has about a 2-to-1 advantage[d]. Moreover, Kasich has a lot of infrastructure advantages in Ohio, which is not surprising given his job title. For example: “An unusual arrangement with the state Republican party and a supportive super PAC loaded with former top aides from the governor’s office has allowed Kasich to lay an extensive groundwork ahead of the March 15 primary. ‘We’re running a truncated, mini-gubernatorial campaign in a month,’ Matt Borges, the Ohio Republican Party chairman, said in an interview. ‘Do I think all of those things make up a couple of points? Yes.’ Kasich trailed Drumpf in Ohio by 6 points in the most recent CNN/ORC poll, 41% to 35%. But a Fox News poll released Wednesday showed Kasich ahead by 5 points. The reality, state officials say, is that the race is largely a toss-up at this point. ‘We know where we have a lot of work to do,’ Borges said. ‘You have a governor with a 77% approval rating. We’ve gotta remind Ohioans why they like him, what they like about him.’ Internally, Kasich’s team is encouraged by what they see happening on the ground. Save for a series of ad buys and a few appearances in the state, they’ve seen little else in the form of an organization from Drumpf in the state. Marco Rubio, focused solely on survival in Florida, and Ted Cruz, aren’t planning any stops in the state. In the past few primary contests, including in Michigan, late breaking voters have trended toward Kasich, not Drumpf. A race that becomes essentially a one-on-one battle with Drumpf, with a full week of a coordinated blitz to hammer home why people in the state approved of Kasich to begin with, provides a clear opportunity to rise, aides and supporters say”[e]. That’s a somewhat one-sided take, but Kasich’s underlying strengths in Ohio are pretty clear.

It’s true: Drumpf has been running a lot of negative adds very recently[f], but they appear to involve little that Ohioans haven’t heard during Kasich’s gubernatorial campaigns here, save the claim that Kasich is an absentee landlord. Will that work? Unemployment in Ohio is 5.7%, and it’s been experiencing economic growth over the last few years: “the state had a projected GDP of $526.1 billion in 2013, up from 517.1 in 2012, and up from 501.3 in 2011″[g]. If the state were under water, then the absentee landlord charge might sting, but that’s not the case.

  • 59% John Kasich
  • 41% Donald Trump
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