COLUMBUS – Gov. John Kasich says he's seriously considering a third bid for president.
"We're seriously thinking about it," Kasich said on ABC's “This Week with George Stephanopoulos." "We're seriously talking about it with family and friends and political allies who have come to me about this."
But does he seriously have a shot at winning?
Political observers say Kasich's path to the White House is narrow – if it exists at all.
"At this point, it doesn’t seem like there is a path for John Kasich to be the next president of the United States," said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
Here are Kasich's options, and why it's unlikely he'll get there.
GOP challenger to Trump
What would it look like? Kasich could run as the alternative to President Donald Trump for Republicans wary of the president's rhetoric or policies. It's just not clear how many Republican primary voters fall into that camp.
In his 2016 presidential bid, Kasich won just one state, Ohio. But he outlasted everyone but Trump, the eventual nominee and president.
For Kasich, seeking the Republican nomination is appealing for several reasons. For one, getting on the ballot is much easier as a Republican or a Democrat.
And despite Kasich's recent popularity with some Democrats, he is a Republican. He's still the person who, as a college student at Ohio State University, once stretched a five-minute Oval Office meeting with President Richard Nixon into 20 minutes.
"The governor, at the end of the day, is a Republican," Kasich's top adviser John Weaver said.
In a GOP bid, Kasich would focus on New Hampshire, a more fiscally than socially conservative state, and one of the few early primary states that would play to Kasich's strengths. Consider: 83 percent of Iowa Republicans approve of the job Trump is doing, according to a recent poll.
"It would be a tremendously uphill battle for the governor when you look at those early states," said Herb Asher, a professor emeritus of political science at Ohio State University.
Kasich in his own words: "I'm a Republican," Kasich told Margaret Brennan on CBS' "Face the Nation" in September.
"The party is worth saving, you're saying?" Brennan asked.
"Well, I'm going to do my level best."
Would it work? In the nation's history, only one candidate has challenged a sitting president and gone on to win the White House: James Buchanan in 1856.
Democrats nominated Buchanan over President Franklin Pierce, who was seen as too pro-southern states and slavery.
So, history isn't on Kasich's side.
Kasich's GOP challenge could be bolstered by a major implosion from Trump. (Think indictment, impeachment or a national recession.) But there's no proof that will happen, and it's not clear Trump supporters would abandon the president under any circumstances.
Plus, Kasich has burned a lot of bridges in the GOP, Kondik said.
"If Trump were to have an implosion, wouldn’t the GOP turn to someone else other than John Kasich?" Kondik asked. "It’s not like there was some giant demand for John Kasich in 2016."
Still, Kasich would have some advantages in 2020 that he didn't in 2016, Asher said.
Before 2015, few voters outside of Ohio knew Kasich, and he had little time to change that fact as the last candidate to enter the GOP primary. That late entry also meant donors were already committed to candidates such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Kasich, a frequent guest on national news programs because of his anti-Trump stances, is now better known by voters and reporters alike.
An independent voice
What would that look like: Kasich could team up with a center-left candidate, such as Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, for an independent bid. (Although, Kasich has quipped that Hickenlooper's name is too long for a bumper sticker.)
In this scenario, Kasich would count on voters being so disenfranchised with the Republican and Democratic parties that they would consider another option. There's some evidence that young voters, in particular, don't feel represented by either party.
"Both parties are moving further to the extreme leaving a vast gulf in between," Weaver said.
But third-party candidates face real challenges, such as raising enough money without a dedicated donor pool and understanding each state's election laws well enough to mount a credible bid.
To make a run, Kasich would need money from donors such as L Brands CEO Leslie Wexner who recently announced he was no longer a Republican after meeting with former President Barack Obama.
Kasich in his own words: "(L)et’s just say that Donald Trump is nominated and Elizabeth Warren is nominated, and you have this ocean of people who sit in the middle. Is there a legitimate opportunity for a third party, bipartisan kind of ticket to be able to – to score a victory or to have a profound impact on the future of American politics?" Kasich mulled on ABC's “This Week with George Stephanopoulos."
Would it work? Since the emergence of the two-party system, no one has won the White House as an independent. The most successful third-party candidate was Theodore Roosevelt in 1912 when the former president earned just 88 electoral votes.
America has changed since then, but the challenges remain. Forty-eight states, including Ohio, have a winner-take-all allocation of their electoral votes. In those states, along with the District of Columbia, an independent candidate would have to best both the Republican and Democrat to win any electoral votes at all.
And there's a chance that running as an independent would actually help Trump win, Kondik said. Those suburban voters disenfranchised by Trump might vote for Kasich rather than the Democratic nominee.
"In a re-election scenario, you are either voting for Trump or Trump’s most viable opponent, and Trump’s most viable opponent will be the Democratic nominee," Kondik said.
Team Kasich is aware of that possibility.
"None of us are interested in doing anything that helps Donald Trump get re-elected," Weaver said.
Sending a message
What would that look like: Kasich wouldn't run to win the presidency. He would run to cause a disturbance in the GOP party, making it more difficult for Trump to win.
There's some precedent: In 1968, Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy, a Democrat, defeated sitting President Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire primary. Johnson, who was in the middle of fighting an unpopular war in Vietnam, was stunned and decided not to run for reelection.
But McCarthy didn't go on to win the Democratic party's nomination no less the presidency. Ultimately, Republican Richard Nixon was elected president.
Kasich in his own words: "(D)o I run because I’ve determined that I can win or is it important for me to make such a good showing that I can send a message that can disrupt the political system in this country?" Kasich mused on "This Week."
Would it work? This is the least likely of the unlikely scenarios. But if the goal isn't the White House, it might be easier to claim victory. A win in New Hampshire might be enough.
Just being in the race could put Kasich in position for the unexpected.
Or as Kasich told Stephanopoulos: "Well you know what? You know what? No one thought a guy like Donald Trump would be elected president."