Ted Cruz and John Kasich, placed second and third in the Republican race for the White House, have joined hands to stop Donald Trump, the frontrunner, from winning the nomination.
In a joint strategy announced on Sunday, Cruz will compete in one of the three states holding their nomination contests next week, Indiana, and leave New Mexico and Oregon to Kasich.
Their aim is not to win the nomination during the primaries/caucuses but to stop Trump from securing enough delegates to reach the 1,237 mark needed to win the ticket.
The real-estate tycoon leads the count of delegates with 845 to Cruz’s 559 and Kasich’s 148, leaving his rivals with no clear path to the nomination till the close of primaries on June 7.
Trump, who is expected to sweep the five northeastern states holding their contests on Tuesday, getting closer to the 1,247 mark, has said he will manage the remaining 402 delegates.
Cruz and Kasich believe they can deny him that opportunity by getting out of the way for each other and take him on in one-on-one fights, preventing anti-Trump votes from splitting.
Trump tends to win multi-cornered fights with 35-45% vote share as the rest of the votes get split among his rivals, with the exception of New York, which he won with 60.4%. His critics have long been urging the remaining Republican candidates to winnow the field to two, him against just one of them. But they haven’t had any success yet.
Trump will be in trouble, if he was faced with just one. In Indiana, for instance, he leads in the polls with a thin margin — 39.3% to Cruz’s 33%; and Kasich is a strong third with 19.3%. If Kasich is leaving the state to Cruz and is able to transfer his votes to him, Trump will lose by a convincing margin, mathematically at least.
Trump knows things can get difficult, and reacted strongly on Monday saying, “Collusion is often illegal in many other industries and yet these two Washington insiders have had to revert to collusion in order to stay alive. They are mathematically dead and this act only shows, as puppets of donors and special interests, how truly weak they and their campaigns are.”