The Republican presidential race in Ohio is tightening, and it looks like a dogfight between local Gov. John Kasich and billionaire Donald Trump.
A new Quinnipiac University poll out Monday morning found Kasich in a tie with Trump in one of the most important states of the entire primary.
The Buckeye State, with 66 delegates up for grabs, is the second-biggest winner-take-all state on the Republican side.
If Kasich loses his home state, he’s said he would drop out of the race. If he wins Ohio, he predicted that the GOP would face a contested convention, in which no candidate gets a majority of delegates.
The Quinnipiac poll showed Trump and Kasich tied at 38%, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 15%, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 3%. Other recent polls found Kasich up by a few points over Trump.
Ohio and Florida are both crucial for Trump’s plan to wrap up the GOP nomination quickly, and the Republican frontrunner has invested a lot of his time in both states. Florida, like Ohio, is a large, winner-take-all state that will hold its primary Tuesday.
Politico noted that the two primaries “will determine whether there’s chaos or a coronation at the Cleveland convention” in July. Winning Ohio and Florida could propel Trump even further ahead of other candidates in his delegate count, but losing both could set him back enough to call into question his status as the inevitable nominee.
Top GOP operatives have reportedly been discussing the possibility of a contested convention, in which the nomination is decided on the convention floor.
As Rubio is poised to lose his home state of Florida — polls found him losing to Trump by double-digit percentage points — a Kasich win in Ohio could help Republicans stop Trump from getting the 1,237 delegates necessary to lock up the nomination before the convention.
For his part, Trump has taken aim at Kasich as the race in Ohio tightened. In the week leading up to the primary, Trump trashed Kasich for supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement while serving in Congress in the 1990s, questioned his strength as a leader, and called him an “absentee governor.”
But Trump has also expanded his focus to the other big states that will vote next Tuesday: North Carolina, Illinois, and Missouri. Even if Trump stumbles in Ohio, he could still be on solid footing going into the next rounds of contests.
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