Ted Cruz and John Kasich, Donald Trump’s two remaining rivals for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, announced a deal on Sunday to try to stop the New York businessman.
But their pact may be too little, too late and is anyway less impressive than it sounds.
Cruz’ campaign manager, Jeff Roe, said in a statement that the Texas senator will concentrate his efforts in Indiana, which holds a primary next week, while Kasich would take Oregon and New Mexico, which vote later in May and in early June.
“We would hope that allies of both campaigns would follow our lead,” Roe said.
But neither candidate is actually calling on its voters to support the other, nor are they dividing up more than three states.
What about the rest?
The cooperation probably comes too late to stop Trump in the five Northeastern states that vote on Tuesday, including delegate-rich Connecticut and Maryland.
It also makes no mention of the other three states that are due to vote in May, even though a total of 114 delegates will be at stake in Nebraska, Washington state and West Virginia.
The Atlantic Sentinel argued last month that Cruz and Kasich should stop campaigning in states where the other stood a better chance of defeating Trump.
Kasich, who has only won his home state of Ohio so far, nevertheless spent time and resources in Utah, a state that obviously favored Cruz, while Cruz seemed willing to collaborate with Trump in an attempt to kick Kasich out of the race.
NBC News argues that Sunday’s deal is one of dire necessity. If Trump wins Indiana and its 57 delegates, it would become extremely difficult for either Cruz or Kasich to mount a successful challenge at the convention.
Trump has seldom won an outright majority in the primaries so far. But he has racked up disproportionately more delegates than votes because the opposition against him was divided.
In Florida, for example, the property tycoon and television personality got 45 percent support but all of the state’s 99 delegates, putting him that much closer to the 1,237 needed to secure the nomination in July.
Barring a late-game upset, however, Trump is still unlikely to win an absolute majority of the delegates before the convention.
He is currently at 845 by the Associated Press’ count, against 559 for Cruz and 148 for Kasich.
Neither Cruz nor Kasich can win a majority of the delegates anymore. Their best hope is forcing a contested convention. That means neither candidate has a majority and it will be up to the delegates themselves to decide who should be the nominee.