So people I know are debating why tactical voting isn’t a thing in the United States. For those of you who don’t the term, tactical voting is when you have more than two candidates in a district. If you dislike one of the candidates, then you vote for the one of the remaining pair who is most likely to win, rather than the one you like the most.
Put that way, tactical voting is totally a thing in the United States. It is why it so hard for third party candidates to get any traction, even at the level of state and local elections.
But tactical voting has another aspect. Parties often decide not to run candidates in certain districts to avoid splitting the vote. This happens all the time in Britain and (somewhat less) Canada. In the words of Doug Muir: “You have a couple of ridings that split something like 30 / 30 / 40 percent for Labour / Liberals / Tories. so, Labour and the Liberals make a deal — Labour won’t run a candidate in this constituency, the Liberals won’t run a candidate in that one. Result, Labour and Liberals gain 1 seat each instead of the Tories claiming 2.”
Marco Rubio just proposed to John Kasich that they do something like this: Kasich will give up on Florida and in turn Rubio will pull out of Ohio. Great deal! But Kasich said no, publicly and forcefully.
One possibility that people have raised with me is simply that American politicians are not used to that sort of thing. Only that’s not right: as political professionals have pointed out to me , it happens all the time in the early caucus states.
More likely is that there just is no point! Rubio won’t win Florida even if Kasich dropped out tomorrow. Rubio dropping out might help Kasich in Ohio, but Kasich is closing in on Trump regardless. A deal might break Kasich’s momentum. And a deal would likely keep Rubio in the race even when he loses Florida. Moreover, Rubio has something to gain from falling on his sword for the party: it keeps him in good graces for 2020. Kasich, on the other hand, will be credible in 2020 regardless.
In other words, even if this were normal American behavior for this point in the campaign season, Kasich would still have said no.