WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Experts were referring to a weekend agreement by Governor John Kasich of the US state of Ohio to drop out of Indiana’s primary next Tuesday, allowing Senator Ted Cruz and Trump to fight a two-man battle for the Indiana’s 57 delegates.
"I’m not sure it’s going to damage Donald Trump as much as they might think," Cedarville University’s Director of Political Studies Mark Smith said on Monday.
In exchange, Cruz will cede the states of New Mexico and Oregon to Kasich. With most US states having already voted, neither Cruz nor Kasich can win the party nomination on a first ballot.
"It’s probably unsafe to assume that Kasich voters will automatically choose Cruz and Cruz voters will automatically choose Kasich," Smith stated. "There are an awful lot of Kasich voters who don’t like Cruz and there are an awful lot of Cruz voters who can’t stand Kasich."
Many analysts believe that if Trump fails to win Indiana on May 3 — a winner-take-all primary — it becomes mathematically impossible for the billionaire to round up the 1,237 delegates he needs for a first-ballot victory at the Republican convention.
If no candidate wins the initial vote, delegates are free to vote for anyone — a scenario that lifted the number 3 candidate, relatively unknown frontier lawyer Abraham Lincoln, to the nomination in 1860.
As the most conservative candidate, Cruz would seem to be best positioned to take on Trump, as the candidates share hardline views on topics dear to the Republican right on issues such as opposition to abortion and promises to deport illegal immigrants.
But Kent Syler, a professor at Middle Tennessee State University and the Paris Institute of Political Studies in Reims, France, told Sputnik that Cruz has had limited success wooing Trump supporters.
University of Dayton Political Science Professor Dan Birdsong called the Cruz-Kasich alliance a risky wager.
"They’re betting if Trump loses the nomination, the disaffected voters will come back to the GOP [Republican Party] for the general election. And they’re betting if Trump doesn’t win the nomination, he doesn’t run as a third party," Birdsong told Sputnik. "They’re making a big gamble."
On the eve of Tuesday’s primary in five US northeastern states, which Trump is expected to sweep, the businessman-turned-politician wasted no time taking aim at his rivals’ collusion, calling both candidates pathetic and weak.
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