With 7 candidates splitting the votes in Ohio’s Republican Senate Primary on Tuesday, it was inevitable that someone would win with a plurality. That someone was J.D. Vance, the Trump-endorsed dog-whistler whose campaign ads ask hard hitting questions like, “Are you a racist?” and “Do you hate Mexicans?”
Vance prevailed in the crowded field of Senate hopefuls with about 32%, followed by Josh Mandel, his main challenger for the Trumpist vote and for Trump’s endorsement, with 23.9%. After that was Matt Dolan, the centrist candidate and the only Republican in the field to acknowledge that Trump’s Big Lie is false, with 23.3%, and then four other candidates who split the roughly 18% of the vote remaining. In all, well over a million votes were cast on the Republican side of the primary, which, in a state that’s made a sharp right turn since 2016, represented nearly double the votes that were cast on the Democratic side. That nearly half of those million+ Republican votes went to candidates–in Vance and Mandel–who actively courted Trump and the far Right throughout the primary, is yet another framing that shows Trump’s grip over grass-roots Republican votership is still strong, and that Trump himself will be a key element in the general election in the fall.
On the Democratic side, Tim Ryan easily won his primary, in what was never a competitive race. Some see this as evidence that registered Democrats joined Independants in voting in the Republican primary, which was competitive, and on which more than 80 million was spent in ad buys. Ryan and Vance will face off in November’s general election, in what is expected to be a contentious, highly-funded race.