Profile pictures of US Senate Ohio candidates Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance from BallotPedia

Welcome to the race for the US Senate seat for Ohio! This race for an open seat pits the Democrat Tim Ryan, who has served in the US House of Representatives since 2013, against the Republican J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy and former Marine (2003–2007).

Ohio is a Republican-leaning state that has voted for Democratic presidents occasionally (though rarely with more than 50% of the vote) and Democratic members of Congress more regularly. The other Ohio Senate seat has been occupied by Democrat Sherrod Brown since 2007, but the state voted for Donald Trump by 51% in 2016 and 53% in 2020, showing a continued rightward trend. A blue-collar state hit hard by manufacturing job loss, the economy is front and center of both candidates’ messages and platforms, a trend that would normally favor the Republicans. But there are data showing a large gender gap in the polls, with higher support for Democrats among women, as well as a large number of early voting and mail-in ballots showing the increased interest in this midterm election. The race, though tight, has not received much national support from the Democratic Party. Is this decision a realistic assessment of Democratic chances of success in Ohio, or a wasted opportunity?  

An important note for this election season: Traditionally, the “party in power,” defined as the party in charge of the US presidency (which this year is the Democratic Party), loses seats in the midterm elections. But two additional competing trends are at play. On the one hand, the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 shifted momentum toward the Democrats (see 538 and NYT analysis at these links). But the continued economic concerns about inflation and gas prices work in the Republicans’ favor (see Politico and CNN analysis at these links). The race in Ohio is one of the top nine Senate races to watch in the 2022 election, and its outcome will help determine which party controls the US Senate in January 2023. 



Local news sources:

General news sources:

Relevant news stories:

  • Article: “Can Tim Ryan Really Win Ohio’s Senate Race?” FiveThirtyEight, August 19, 2022
  • Article, “In G.O.P.-Leaning Ohio, the Vance-Ryan Senate Race Is Closer Than Once Expected,” New York Times, September 16, 2022
  • Article: “Polling shows wide gender gap in Ohio, factoring into competitive Senate race,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 29, 2022
  • Article: “Tim Ryan and J.D. Vance hold second debate in pivotal U.S. Senate race,” Columbus Dispatch, October 17, 2022
  • Article: “Is Ohio part of the Senate battleground?” Roll Call, October 19, 2022
  • Article: “All politics is national: Ohio’s U.S. Senate race draws outside figures to campaign trail,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 20, 2022
  • Article: “Ohio Senate race: Tim Ryan vents ‘frustration’ that national Democrats aren’t putting more money behind him,” Fox News, October 20, 2022
  • Article: “Early voting in Ohio: Over 943,000 voted in-person or requested mail-in ballots in first week,” Cincinnati Enquirer, October 20, 2022