John Kasich

Ohio Gov. John Kasich drops out Wednesday. (Photo: Gabrielle Lurie, Special To The Chronicle)

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Debra J. Saunders

By Debra J. Saunders
Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 – 5:00 pm

When Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced Tuesday night, after losing Indiana, that he was suspending his primary campaign, it was not a fatal blow to the Stop Trump movement. Many Republicans who opposed Donald Trump — because he’s a self-serving unreliable conservative likely to alienate huge swaths of the American electorate — weren’t particularly strong on Cruz, a staunch conservative in his own right, but also a craven opportunist who hurt the GOP brand with such kamikaze stunts as his push to shut down the government in a bound-to-fail (and it did) bid to defund Obamacare.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is a different story. A strong conservative who talks like a liberal, Kasich also polled as the Republican most likely to beat Hillary Clinton. He presented the great white hope of Republicans who wanted a contested national convention to save them from Trump. After watching Kasich’s announcement Wednesday that he is suspending his campaign, I still do not know why Kasich, who lacked the ability to win the needed amount of delegates long ago, waited until when he was the last Republican left on the field to fold up his tent and go home.

Kasich’s departure is a shame. In April, the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked voters if they rated candidates favorably or unfavorably. Only two hopefuls — Kasich and Sen. Bernie Sanders, independent-Vt. — had more positive than negative numbers — Kasich by 12 points and Sanders by 9 points. The two least-popular presidential hopefuls are their parties’ nominees. Trump polled with a net poll rating of negative 41 percent — 24 percent liked him, 65 percent did not — and Hillary Clinton at negative 24 percent — 32 percent liked her, 56 percent did not.

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