For what began as a subdued evening at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio with John Kasich supporters politely seated as a brass band played smooth jazz, the atmosphere livened at rapid speed when the announcement the room had been waiting for flashed across a big screen TV: Kasich wins Ohio.
Though polls had shown Kasich and opponent Donald Trump neck and neck in the crucial primary, despite Kasich’s position as the state’s sitting governor, many supporters who attended his watch party on Tuesday night said they were confident all along that he would win.
The question for them now becomes whether this win will be enough.
“Anything can happen,” said Bill Kitson of Beachwood. “The governor is still in the race and he has the full support of his state behind him.”
“I hope Kasich has sat quietly long enough to now come out in front,” said Lisa White of Olmsted Falls. “Trump has made a lot of mistakes.”
Kasich won all 66 of Ohio’s delegates in this election, a victory his supporters hope will help him get more traction across the country. His perceived lack of media attention was a common theme among supporters I spoke to at his victory party.
“I hope this victory validates him getting coverage,” Mercedez Hathcock of Olmsted Falls said. “Every time Trump says something stupid, he gets coverage. Why should a clown get coverage?” she added.
When asked whether they would go on to support Trump if he beat Kasich and Cruz for the Republican nomination, several supporters had already made up their mind about what to do.
“I will not vote for Trump or Cruz,” Hathcock said. “I have a moral compass and they don’t fall in line with it.”
White also said she likely wouldn’t vote at all rather than supporting Trump in the general election, but added that she is “struggling” with that prospect.
“I’m insecure in my decision. It bothers me, the state of the Republican party. It’s obvious it needs an overhaul,” White said.
“If it came down to it, it would most likely be Trump vs. Hillary, and I would not vote,” said Holly Liebhart, a student at Baldwin-Wallace College. “Clinton is known for her lies and all the stuff she covers up. And Donald Trump is just so judgmental to things he doesn’t approve of and he would ruin our foreign relations.”
Kasich’s victory in Ohio has energized his campaign and supporters, though it remains to be seen whether his new-found momentum can catch up to Trump’s lead among Republican voters.
The Ohio governor made it clear tonight in his victory speech that he plans to go keep plowing ahead at full speed.
“We are going to go all the way to Cleveland and secure the Republican nomination,” Kasich said during his victory speech.