Survey: Josh Mandel, J.D. Vance Lead Ohio GOP Senate Primary

ohio republican endorsed
AP Photo/Al Behrman

Former Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel is still leading in the Ohio Republican Primary race for Senate, with J.D. Vance in second place — a sign that recent attacks have not moved the dial among voters — a Trafalgar Group survey released this week found.

The survey, taken December 12-15, among 1,053 likely 2022 GOP primary voters, found Mandel leading the pack of candidates, garnering 21.4 percent support, followed by J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, who garnered 14.9 percent:

Notably, the numbers did not veer too far from a Protect Ohio Values PAC survey released in October, showing Mandel leading with 19 percent support and Vance falling to second with 16 percent support:

While internal Mandel polling this summer showed the former state House member with a 28-percentage-point lead in the race, a poll commissioned by a pro-Vance super PAC put Mandel just 3 points ahead of Vance, at 19 percent and 16 percent, respectively. That survey, released Thursday, was done by Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio.

This would suggest that the recent attacks on Vance, lodged by Club for Growth and USA Freedom Fund, both of which launched a “nearly $1 million coordinated ad buy” attacking Vance for his previous opposition to Trump, have not worked.

As Politico reported in October:

Club for Growth Action and USA Freedom Fund, both of which back former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, are each spending $470,000 to make Republican primary voters aware of Vance’s harsh rhetoric toward the former president. Vance has publicly said he did not cast a vote for Trump in the 2016 election.

However, Vance has since said he regrets his past critiques of Trump. His press secretary told Politico in a statement that Vance is a “strong supporter of President Trump, and his rapid rise in the polls is scaring the same pro-China, globalist D.C. establishment that spent millions of dollars attacking President Trump in 2016, because they’re terrified of someone who stands with Trump and working-class Americans on tariffs and a pro-America trade policy getting elected to the U.S. Senate.”

JD Vance, the venture capitalist and author of "Hillbilly Elegy," addresses a rally Thursday, July 1, 2021, in Middletown, Ohio, where he announced he is joining the crowded Republican race for the Ohio U.S. Senate seat being left by Rob Portman. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

JD Vance, the venture capitalist and author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” addresses a rally Thursday, July 1, 2021, in Middletown, Ohio, where he announced he is joining the crowded Republican race for the Ohio U.S. Senate seat being left by Rob Portman. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

Recently, former President Donald Trump intervened in the race, calling Club for Growth President David McIntosh “to complain about a TV advertising campaign the conservative organization was running targeting Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance, and asked McIntosh to take the ads down,” according to Politico.

According to the report, Trump expressed concern that the negative ads could affect his own popularity in the Buckeye State:

McIntosh, an informal Trump adviser who frequently talks with the former president about campaigns around the country, responded by saying he would look into the matter, according to one of the people familiar with the conversation. But the Club continued airing the $1 million TV buy — and on Wednesday, the organization escalated the offensive by plowing another $500,000 behind the effort.

Last month, the Ohio Senate candidate suggested that lawmakers should “shut down the government until the vaccine mandate ends.”

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