At the start of a game of Risk you deploy your armies strategically throughout the globe, with the goal of winning control of continents, and eventually the world. As you deploy, you carefully watch your competitors to understand their strategies, and adjust accordingly. If everyone is going after Australia, you may want to go to South America instead, or even Africa. An American Presidential nomination has a similar dynamic. Let’s pretend we’re Kasich, and we’re trying to figure out where to deploy our limited campaign resources for the make or break month of March. In order to do this you must make certain assumptions, always bearing in mind that these assumptions may have to be discarded in light of ongoing events.
Kasich’s principal assumption is that he’ll do well in New Hampshire. This is his acid test, sine qua non. He has to be in the top three. What’s truly unknowable is who will have missed the cut in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Bush 3 and Trump could survive that. Probably Cruz and Rubio as well. The rest of the field will fade, quickly.
The following is all back of the envelope stuff. State parties have been adjusting their primary and caucus dates, and the list I’m working off may be slightly out of date. I count 19 primaries and caucuses between the first and the ides of March. You really can’t campaign in 19 states in 14 days. Kasich’s hole card is Ohio, on March 8th. His real target is Michigan, held on the same day. If he’s going to win the nomination, he’s got to be in the top two there. Then it’s on to Illinois, on March 15th. This is where he wants a win, and probably needs a win, depending on who’s still standing in the ring with him.
For some reason I think of Massachusetts as Bush/Romney squishy Republican. If Bush looks weak, Kasich might want to try to compete there on March 1st.
I think he cedes Texas on March 1st, along with Oklahoma. And he won’t go to Florida, assuming Bush 3 and Rubio are still in it. But he can’t concede the whole South, so he’ll be competing in Georgia on March 1st, and Alabama on the 8th. I don’t think he has the resources, at least not yet, to compete in the caucuses of Colorado, Minnesota, and Puerto Rico, or the Hawaii primary. Maybe down the road.
So he knows where he’ll go, and where he won’t. What about Louisiana, and Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee and North Carolina? So many delegates, so little time. It may be that those decisions are put off until the last minute.
Kasich’s tight with Ducey, the Governor of Arizona, so he’ll want to compete there on March 22nd. The dust will barely have cleared from the wars earlier in the month. A Kasich victory in Arizona would, hopefully, be the exclamation point on a three week span in which he established himself as one of the finalists in the fight for the nomination.
It’s a fun game. Anyone can play. Except some people are doing it for real.
When I first went down to Juneau I left Babbie and the kids in Anchorage. We couldn’t afford to set up a temporary house there. So I had time to kill in the evenings. Half the time I was drinking beer with other legislators and lobbyists at the Baranof. I was the youngest member of the State Senate, and thought pretty highly of myself. But I played a fair amount of Risk as well.
That first session lasted over five months. Our sons were seven, six and three. It was the middle of winter, and Babbie had to suit these kids up like Eskimos to get to the grocery store.
I hit three score and ten today. My life can divided into thirds. The first third I was on my own. It’s been a lot better since then.