On the end again but lucky to be at the fourth Republican debate, hosted by Fox Business News and the Wall Street Journal and held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Ohio Gov. John Kasich needed to stand out from the other seven competing candidates on stage.
He did that, but in a way that earned him biggest loser status. Instead of winning the crowd and the night, an honor that many believe went to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the ham-handed, disruptive performance turned in by Ohio’s CEO made news because of the eight times he interrupted the debate.
Sadly, he was also compared by one of America’s best analyzer of baseball stats to a baseball player who hasn’t really gotten any better over time.
Kasich Biggest Loser
Writing at the Washington Post, Chris Cillizza listed Kasich among tonight’s losers. “John Kasich: The Ohio governor came out with a strategy to install himself right in the center of the debate. To do that, he interrupted, cajoled and pouted his way through it. His positions on immigration and on Wall Street banks won’t win him any support from the GOP base (he got booed for his Wall Street answer). But it wasn’t really about policy. Kasich seemed peevish, short-tempered and anything but presidential.”
According to the top ten takeaways from last night’s debate, at number 6 on the list posted by the Washington Post’s “Daily 202, morning intelligence for leaders,” John Kasich earned honors as the biggest loser. The twitchy, angry governor got more speaking time than any other candidate, but it worked against him.
“Base voters did not like his attempts to cut in, but they liked his message even less. Frank Luntz said that Kasich ‘scored the lowest ever’ in his New Hampshire focus group, and that “his support of bailouts ‘for people who can afford it’ scored an 8” of 100. As a point of comparison, Rubio got 88 on the dial test when he called for the repeal of Dodd-Frank. Luntz relayed that people in his focus group were yelling at the screen: “They don’t want Kasich to speak. Why Johnny, why?”
One of Luntz’ focus group members said this about Kasich: ““He went from my number two candidate right off the charts. He was acting like he was running the debate, he kept interrupting. He just did not present himself well,” The Blaze reported.
Other conservatives also didn’t like what they saw and heard. National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg called Rubio, Cruz and Carly Fiorina the winners. But he zeroed in on Mr. Kasich. “He’s done. He came across angry, condescending and unprincipled. By the end of the debate he came across as the drunk, obnoxious, uncle everyone wishes hadn’t accepted the invitation to Thanksgiving dinner.”
Glenn Beck also had his fill of John Kasich’s bad boy antics. “But the full blunt of his ire was directed towards Kasich, who Beck termed an “EPIC LOSER… Just bad on every front. EPICALLY BAD. Looked rude, old, desperate, cheap, and wildly wrong ON MANY FRONTS. That was a suicide mission on himself. No presidency, no vice presidency and no virgins, [caps in original],” Beck wrote.
Hi Ho Nate Silver
“Is there any sign that John Kasich is good at debating?” Silver wondered. “Or running a national campaign? He’s sort of the Hensley Meulens of the Republican field: lots of buzz, always seems like there’s a breakout right around the corner, but before you know it, a lot of time has passed and he hasn’t really gotten any better. Kasich’s polling isn’t bad in New Hampshire, but not really improved at all from where it was two or three months ago.”
Polling low nationally, Ohio’s term-limited governor took off his good guy mask, one he doesn’t wear well even in the best of times, and put on his natural combative-dismissive persona, as Cillizza at WaPo noted.
According to some charts at FiveThirtyEight, Mr. Kasich lead the field by inserting himself into the debate by interrupting eight times in the two-hour debate. In fact, John Kasich interrupted more times than any candidate got questions directed to them.
Kasich’s big moment came in response to a question about whether bank depositors should be bailed out if their bank went bust. Kasich meandered through a response that received audible boos from the audience. Kasich, a banker who worked for Lehman Brothers before it collapsed and before being elected governor of Ohio in 2010, couldn’t bring himself to say yes to bailing out the failing bank. Instead, his response was convoluted enough that one Fox Business News commentator, who regularly reports on banks and banking issue, called Kasich’s long and winding explanation “incoherent.”
“The two guys who worked for banks; could you understand what they were talking about?” Charlie Gasperino said. Gasperino also called the debate for Marco Rubio.
Which GOP candidates, if any, would get a larger share of the Democratic primary vote than they currently are of the Republican one? Kasich lead going away with 55.50 percent, with second place going to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 18 percent.
Kasich likes to boast he’d be more competitive against Hillary Clinton next year than other Republicans, and he might be if voters think he’s more Democrat than Republican, a split that won’t get him more Republican votes. Kasich has been portrayed by conservatives as not conservative enough, which is a problem in primaries when base GOP voters, who are both fiscal and social conservatives, might not find him appealing.
“Which candidate had you kinda forgotten was still running for president?” was asked. Rick Santorum: 69.8 percent, Bobby Jindal: 31.4 percent, Mike Huckabee: 22.4 percent, John Kasich: 15.5 percent, Chris Christie: 3.6 percent
John Kasich As Hensley Meulens
Micah Cohen, FiveThirtyEight’s senior DataLab editor, offered this observation on Ohio’s 69th governor. “I think it’s plausible that John Kasich, Chris Christie and Rand Paul could all do better in the Democratic primary than they’re currently doing in the GOP primary. (Though that’s mostly to do with how poorly they’re doing among Republicans.)”
Leah Libresco, another FiveThirtyEighter, called Kasich out for stealing from Fiorina’s playbook tonight. “He’s clawed out more time with three interruptions so far (while most candidates haven’t had more than a single question). As usual, no consequences from the moderators (playing an out-of-time “ping” after a minute doesn’t count),” she said.
Ben Casselman, chief economics writer at FiveThirtyEight said what Ohio reporters already know about balancing the state budgets. “As we’ve written before: Don’t give John Kasich credit for balancing Ohio’s budget. He’s required to by law. (The federal budget is a different story.)”
After the debate, talking with Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, Kasich made an improbable boast in light of his very low polling, nationally and in all four of the early primary states, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
“I might not even have an opponent when I run the second time,” Kasich said.