He’s not even in the top-20 of 2016 presidential contenders.  He is one of the last Republicans to announce his candidacy.  Even I have trouble pronouncing his last name.  So why even think about tracking the media performance of the senator from Ohio?

First, his metrics.

John Kasich’s media rating this month is up +4 points or +6 percent to 66, a new high for the senator. He’s nearly 11 points above his trailing 12-month average of 55.  Year-over-year growth is one of the strongest in the sector at +55%.  Cumulative growth (CUME) over the prior 4-years is low, coming in at +9%.  The latter low growth rate is explained pretty quickly when you look at his full 4-year media cycle, that is, until the media got wind that Kasich might make a run for the 2016 GOP nomination his ratings were on a downward trajectory.

But the story is all media growth now.

Momentum is consistent and strong, up +21% on 6-months of continuous media build.  The Ohio senator has amazing upside and the “profile storylines” haven’t even been penned yet.  Kasich’s media challenge reads like a track race.  He’s that runner well behind the main pack, but his prior race results suggest he has the ability to place with the pack coming down the finishing stretch.  So just like that runner, Kasich needs to catch the pack to be in the final run for gold.  We’re still pretty far out from that finish line, but the smart money was on announcements in May/June, not the June/July period.

But we’ve all seen those races where the runner, who is way behind the pack, makes a heroic effort to not only catch the pack, but pass them coming into the final stretch.  And the media loves those types of stories.  And there are advantages to staying off the early earned media radar.  Kasich needs to get into mid-70  point striking range in the next 2 media cycles to join the crowded GOP field, and grab his share of media bandwidth before he becomes a sidenote on our way to the 2016 nomination.