The presidential campaigns of Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich made little mention of the California primary in announcing Sunday night that they have agreed to split several remaining states in the Republican primary in a joint effort to keep Donald Trump from winning the Republican nomination.
According to the agreement, Cruz will agree not to contest Oregon and New Mexico, in return for Kasich agreeing not to contest Indiana, where Trump holds a slight lead in the polls.
Of those contests, only Indiana is likely to prove decisive in any way. Trump’s current lead over Cruz is just eight points, while Kasich is polling at 16 percent. It is unclear, however, whether all of Kasich’s supporters will support Cruz. If even a significant minority support Trump instead, Trump could still win the state. The Indiana Republican primary awards 30 delegates statewide on a winner-take-all basis, plus three delegates per congressional district, also on a winner-take-all basis.
The decisive contest is California, with 172 delegates at stake on June 7. If Trump wins a significant majority of the delegates, he could secure the 1,237 delegates required to win the Republican nomination outright on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July. If Trump wins, but by a closer margin, he could be denied victory on the first ballot and Cruz would likely have a strategic advantage on subsequent ballots, given his success in electing delegates in each state.
California’s Republican primary awards delegates on a similar basis as Indiana. Breitbart News has projected that Kasich is currently unlikely to win any districts in the state, though he could win as many as four, and will likely need to win at least one to make his case in Cleveland.
Kasich could be a spoiler for Cruz in several California districts, making a pact helpful to stopping Trump. However, a Cruz-Kasich pact in California would likely mean the end of Kasich’s presidential ambitions.
Update: The Kasich statement does not mention California specifically, but does say: “We expect to compete with both the Trump and Cruz campaigns in the remaining primary states.” That suggests no agreement has been reached on California.