When you get crucified as bad as Ohio Gov. John Kasich did this year, especially at the small hands of a mentally unbalanced braggadocio like Donald Trump who has zero public office experience, gasping for political air is the goal of an an out of sight, out of mind gone governor like Ohio’s lame duck leader, who hopes mainstream media dials him up from time to time as it searches for odd ball content to feed a hungry 24/7 news cycle.

Gasping Four Years Out

That was the case recently when Donald Trump repeated his allegations that just about everything, including state election systems, are rigged against him. CBS went looking for comments on Trump, and they hit pay dirt with Gov. Kasich, who applied a standard expression to Trump’s whining about the integrity of state election systems. “That is a big, fat joke,” the 64-year old term limited leader said about Trump’s now familiar allegation about why he might not win the White House. He called it “silly” to think such a coordinated cabal could be orchestrated, adding that if elections are rigged and all these votes are stolen, “that’s like saying we never landed on the moon.”

Giving credit where credit is due, John Kasich drew a reasonable conclusion to the Donald’s erroneous self-motivated paranoia. But the Donald does care, having disposed of the perpetually petulant one following his non appearance at the RNC’s presidential nominating convention in Cleveland in July as not relevant.

But a big fat joke could also be applied as a apt description for his long, disappointing and ultimately unsuccessful dream to win his party’s nomination for president. The joke for Kasich was that he could hide behind his terrible record as chief executive while holding it out as a model for other states to follow. Kasich’s joke of an Ohio miracle was that he turned Ohio around, when that honor rightfully should go to former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, on whose short four-year watch the Great Recession took its toll on Buckeye State jobs but who left office as the fifth fastest growing economy. Even as President Obama is rolling past 85 straight months of job growth, Ohio under Gov. Kasich could meet the national average in that category for 45 months.

Early Polls Ugly For Kasich

But reporters carrying Kasich’s water say he’s hard to miss. Kasich may be hard to miss being Governor of Ohio, but he continues to make out of state trips at taxpayer expense to Washington State for Republican candidates or dedicating a new public policy school at George Mason University in Virginia or on a trip to the White House to urge congressional support for the Trans Pacific Partnership. .

“Kasich’s visibility is a clear sign that if Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump loses the election, the Ohio governor will be at the center of what will be an intense quarrel on how the party can recover from its fifth defeat in the past seven presidential elections,” wrote Columbus Dispatch Washington Bureau reporters Jack Torry and Jana Heigl.

Kasich appeared on CBS on Wednesday, but on Thursday a new poll was released, this one from Suffolk University, that had some disquieting information buried in it that badly bruised the media talking point about the governor’s popularity. When Ohio participants were asked their opinion about elected officials on a list that included Kasich, the best favorable rating he could muster was a not impressive 41 percent, which barely out distanced his unfavorable rating of 39.60 percent.

And it was just a couple weeks ago that he came in last place, with just seven percent, on a list of national Republicans who out distance him as those surveyed look ahead to 2020. Just this week, Suffolk University offered not so happy news for Kasich’s popularity, that media has cemented as popular. On a list of other elected public officials, only 41 percent of Ohioans surveyed gave him a favorable rating, while nearly as few, 39.60, rated him unfavorable. The numbers are interesting since Fox News, the network John Kasich worked and his favorite network to appear on, was far and away the most watched network [at 30 percent] with CNN coming in second at just 13 percent. Those describing themselves ad conservative and very conservative and moderate, which means leans Republicans, accounted for over 70 percent of participants.

A new Bloomberg poll offers little hope any future campaign by Kasich would fare better. Asked who should be the face of the party nationally in the event of a Hillary Clinton victory, likely voters who are or lean Republican were widely divergent on a list of five options that included John Kasich. According to the poll, a plurality, 27 percent, picked vice presidential nominee Mike Pence. Trump got 24 percent, ahead of Texas Senator Ted Cruz at 19 percent, House Speaker Paul Ryan at 15 percent, and Ohio Governor John Kasich at 10 percent.

Meanwhile, if polling is accurate 18 days out from this year’s election, by 2020, President Hillary Clinton will be gearing up for reelection while the Republican Party tries to be like Humpty Dumpty, asking all the kings horses and all the king smen to pull itself back together again.

Kasich Afterlife

Where John Kasich will be then is not known, except he won’t be a sitting governor of a major presidential battleground state anymore.

His chances to be in elected public office again are tremendously slim, with only one option in Ohio available to him, vying for Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown’s seat in Washington. To hold that seat, he would have to defeat Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is anticipated to go after Sen. Brown again with similar force and funding to his failed attempt in 2012. Should he decided to do that, and defeat Mandel who’s no friend and endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio this election cycle, he’ll have to win a fight with a former Marine who will be as ruthless as Trump was this year. If he chooses that path and wins, he’ll be taking on a seasoned politician like Brown who is widely known and widely respected, unlike the governor’s toy challenger for governor in 2014 who tripped terminally right out of the starting blocks so bad that Kasich coasted to a comfortable win without even having to once debate Ed FitzGerald.

Or maybe John Kasich will be as content to retreat to his back porch to spend time with his family, as he said in June of 2015, before he formally announced his second run in 16 years for the White House. But if an elected public official isn’t to his liking, as this reporter thinks, he might take an alternate route to the White House, like Woodrow Wilson did in 1916 when he went from President of Princeton to Washington.

Look for Gov. Kasich, who’s lapped up the sweet taste of CEO status, to arrange to be named the next president of The Ohio State University, his Alma mater, the place where he announced in July of 2015, after a long and lucrative career as a tempestuous irritant, that he was ready to be president. This job will pay him millions per year versus the measly underwhelming $148,000 per year he draws as governor. And what platform could be better to run another self-basting, establishment lane campaign from, than one that has no term limits since he serves at the will of a board whose members he will have appointed, offers him inexhaustible chances to employ his friends as he babbles on about free markets and the power of corporatism?

And it comes with a perennial powerful football team, and the added benefit of a nationally recognized marching band that can could deliver to the political showman a new formation, how about a script Kasich, so he can dot the i in his own name. All this might be his, and the price is right!