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Can the fragile Kasich-Cruz alliance survive Eastern Tuesday?

On Monday morning, John Kasich and Ted Cruz unveiled a historic alliance to save the Republican Party by denying Donald Trump the nomination: Kasich won’t compete in Indiana’s primary, which will be held on May 3, and Cruz won’t compete in Oregon and New Mexico, which hold their primaries on May 17 and June 7, respectively. Neither candidate had much of a chance in the states they agreed not to campaign in, but the agreement theoretically makes it easier to prevent Trump from grabbing the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination outright.

Today both Kasich and Cruz will compete in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania. They will both almost certainly get thumped by Donald Trump in every one of those states, particularly the one that matters most—the big prize that is Pennsylvania, where the Joe Paterno-loving Trump is positioned to do very well. But Trump is going to have a delegate lead no matter what happens, so the race from here to the convention is still for the best alternative to Trump.

Cruz will still hold a massive lead over Kasich in both delegates and states after today’s contests, but he is going to get shellacked tonight—it’s very possible that he finishes third in every state, which means that Kasich, who has won only one state, could make the somewhat absurd but totally in character  claim that anti-Trump voters are coalescing around his candidacy. Despite their alliance, Cruz and Kasich have as much, if not more, to gain from running against each other as they do from running against Trump. If Cruz has an abysmal showing tonight, which he probably will, Kasich may be tempted to break their alliance. That would be a miscalculation—Kasich is poised to do horribly in Indiana—but it wouldn’t be out of character. 

The most likely outcome, though? That both candidates do so poorly they try to forget tonight ever happened.