The Buzz

Data likely led to Jeff Roe’s decision on Cruz-Kasich alliance

Jeff Roe
Jeff Roe (Keith Myers/Kansas City Star)

Our friend Jeff Roe’s last-hour gambit to stop Donald Trump and help Sen. Ted Cruz has been roundly panned by outsiders — too little too late, some say, or a trap reinforcing Trump’s critique of a “rigged” system.

Those who have worked with Roe, on the other hand, recognize the deal.

To review: Roe, who runs the Cruz campaign, reached a deal with Gov. John Kasich’s campaign regarding upcoming primaries in Indiana, Oregon, and New Mexico. Cruz will focus on Indiana, ceding the other two primaries to Kasich. Kasich, in turn, would pull out of Indiana.

“We would hope that allies of both campaigns would follow our lead,” Roe said in a statement.

The unusual deal — designed to prevent Trump from accumulating 1,237 pledged delegates to the GOP convention — may or may not work. We’ll know more Tuesday night, after the results from Pennsylvania and four other states come in. Trump may do well in all of them.

But we can say with some certainty that Roe’s agreement with the Kasich campaign wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Kansas Citians who know Roe, and have worked with him, know the consultant is driven by polling to an extraordinary degree. He rarely makes a decision without some data to back him up.

Take a look at this poll from Oregon. Or this one from New Mexico.

Morever, both states allocate delegates in a highly proportionate way. Even in an all-out, one-on-one matchup with Trump, Cruz would likely take only half the available delegates in both states.

Better, perhaps, to give the more moderate Kasich a shot at that split.

Indiana, on the other hand, is much like Missouri — politically and in its delegate selection process. The winner of the state takes 30 delegates, then three are available in each of nine congressional districts.

It’s likely Roe has polling that suggests his best chance to win enough delegates to keep Trump below the 50 percent threshold is in Indiana.

If the two campaigns have misjudged the landscape the gambit will fail, as many now predict. But Roe had reasons for the deal, and now can only wait to see if it works.