Rubio and Kasich aren’t playing to win the game

Recent cases of complex, disorganized and completely incompetent administration notwithstanding, elections are usually quite simple. You ask people to vote for you, and to not vote for other people, and if more people vote for you than vote for other people, you win. It’s that simple.

This concept appears to have been lost on Marco Rubio and John Kasich, the Republican establishment’s last two hopes of wrestling the party’s nomination away from Donald Trump.

Last night, Kasich told an audience in Georgia that he’s “not exactly sure what the goal [of his presidential campaign] is,” plainly acknowledging that he isn’t first and foremost concerned with becoming President of the United States. This morning, chalking up a resounding “second place victory” in Nevada in which he received less than half the votes that Donald Trump did, Marco Rubio flatly insisted that he could win the Republican nomination without doing all that much, you know, winning. As he told Fox and Friends co-host Ashley Earhardt, “You don’t win the nomination by how many states you win.”

To be fair, Rubio did follow that statement up by acknowledging that he would at some point have to win a few states — in particular, winner-take-all states like Florida, which vote later on in the process. To be fairer, Rubio is describing an exceedingly narrow path to the nomination — a path that is made all the more narrow by his campaign’s tactical decision to attack Ted Cruz instead of Donald Trump, which if anything helps the current frontrunner by pushing Cruz voters into his camp.

Perhaps these Republican establishment candidates would do well to take some advice from former New York Jets coach Herm Edwards, who laid out the problem with these candidates strategy in stark detail nearly 15 years ago:

Be it football or presidential politics, you play to win the game. It’s that simple. As soon as you start saying that winning doesn’t matter, it’s time to pack it up and go home.

Right now, Donald Trump is the only Republican candidate who’s playing to win the game. And everyone’s wondering why he’s winning.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • woodroad34

    Rubio’s statement, “You don’t win the nomination by how many states you win.”, sounds too much like Bush v Gore. It sounds as if he has people to steal an election.

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  • UncleBucky

    He said as much as that: “I owe my success to the uneducate people”

  • Sally

    Unfortunately, Trump’s ‘game’ is counter to everything America stands for. It is truly amazing that hatred for fellow human beings and fear can command all these ignorant voters.

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