Remember when Republican presidential candidates John Kasich and Ted Cruz forged an unprecedented alliance to stop their mutual nemesis, Donald Trump? The two coalition members announced their grand partnership just last week, and yet the latest primary results Tuesday evening suggest it might as well have never happened.
The first challenge for the partnership was to block Trump's path in Indiana. Kasich agreed to step aside in that state's primary so the anti-Trump forces could unify behind Cruz and withhold at least one more state-level victory from the seemingly unstoppable front-runner. But whatever unity may have existed in Indiana, it was barely a hindrance for Trump, declared the victor as soon as polls closed.
That doesn't bode well for Kasich's chances in New Mexico and Oregon, where Cruz agreed not to campaign as part of the deal. If this was the last, best hope of denying Trump the nomination, then the primary might very well be effectively over.
Or maybe the primary ended the day after the Cruz-Kasich pact was first announced, when Kasich told reporters he would still encourage his Indiana supporters to vote for him in the state's primary.
"I don't see this as any big deal," Kasich said, regarding the pact. "I'm not going to spend resources in Indiana. He's not going to spend them in other places. So what? What's the big deal?"
To the extent that his arrangement with Cruz has had any effect on the race, the evidence suggests it has been counterproductive. Earlier this week, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Marist poll found Trump ahead of Cruz by 15 percentage points in the Indiana primary. The same poll found that 58 percent of the state's likely Republican voters disapproved of the Cruz-Kasich alliance, while 34 percent approved. Nearly two-thirds said the deal would have no effect on their vote.
Oregon votes in two weeks, and the New Jersey and New Mexico primaries will be held June 7. Even if it holds together until then, the anti-Trump federation, such as it is, could wind up as a footnote in the bigger story of the Republican primary. After all, June 7 is also when the delegate-rich state of California will be decided. The Golden State and its 172 delegates are not subject to the Cruz-Kasich deal.
California polls show Trump ahead of both Cruz and Kasich by more than 20 points.