• Republican JD Vance has a slim lead over Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in the open-seat Ohio Senate race.
  • In a new Emerson College poll, Vance led Ryan 45%-42%, with both men on positive ground with voters.
  • While Ohio has leaned to the right in recent cycles, Ryan is running as a political moderate.

Ohio Republican Senate nominee JD Vance has a narrow three-point lead over Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in the race to succeed retiring two-term GOP Sen. Rob Portman, according to a newly released Emerson College poll.

The survey revealed that Vance had the support of 45% of likely voters in the Buckeye State, while Ryan attracted the support of 42% of respondents; ten percent of respondents indicated they were undecided while four percent said they would back another candidate.

In recent election cycles, Ohio has shifted from a Midwestern swing state to a Republican-leaning bastion where the party has come to dominate most statewide offices as well as the legislature.

The last Democratic presidential nominee to win Ohio was Barack Obama in 2012, and despite Sen. Sherrod Brown’s reelection victory in 2018, he will likely face a tough race in 2024 despite his general popularity in the state.

Democrats last won a gubernatorial election with then-Rep. Ted Strickland’s 2006 victory.

Vance, an Ohio native who first came onto the national scene in the summer of 2016 with the release of his memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” had for years been touted as a likely political candidate before jumping in the Senate race, as his book was often cited in explaining the cultural and electoral shifts attributed to rural voters in recent cycles.

Tim Ryan and a construction worker talking.

US Rep. and Ohio Democratic Senate candidate Tim Ryan speaks with supporters during a rally in Lorain, Ohio, on May 2, 2022.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

But Ryan — who grew up in the Mahoning Valley and has served in Congress since 2003 — has so far shown noticeable strength for a Democratic candidate running in a state with a GOP tilt.

In the Emerson survey, 54% of respondents had a favorable view of Ryan, compared to 50% for Vance.

Vance also had a 20% lead with male respondents, while Ryan had a 15% edge among female respondents.

Ryan, who has also courted independents and Republicans to back his campaign, was able to remain on positive ground with voters despite President Joe Biden’s 39% approval rating in Ohio. (The president’s disapproval rating in the poll sat at 56%.)

Former President Donald Trump, who won Ohio by 8% in both 2016 and 2020, led Biden in a prospective 2024 matchup 53%-39%, a reflection of the former commander-in-chief’s enduring popularity in the state.

In the poll, half (50%) of all voters indicated that the economy and taxes were their top issues in the midterm elections, followed by abortion (12%) and healthcare (10%).

In the same survey, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, who is running for reelection, boasted a sizeable 16-percentage point lead (49%-33%) over his Democratic opponent, former Dayton mayor Nan Whaley.

Emerson College polled 925 likely voters on August 15 and August 16; the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

A picture of a switch and lightbulb

Sign up for notifications from Insider! Stay up to date with what you want to know.
Subscribe to push notifications