Gibbons leads Ohio GOP Senate primary: poll

Ohio Senate candidate Mike Gibbons leads the GOP primary field in the Buckeye State, according to new polling from The Hill/Emerson College released Monday. 

Gibbons leads with 22 percent support from Republican primary voters, while former state Treasurer Josh Mandel trails with 15 percent. Author and businessman J.D. Vance came in with 8 percent support, while former state GOP Chair Jane Timken and state Sen. Matt Dolan (R) each received 6 percent support. 

While the poll shows Gibbons leading the field, the 39 percent of undecided GOP primary voters could be a hopeful sign for other candidates in the field. 

The intraparty contest saw a major development earlier this month when retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) endorsed Timken to be his successor in the race. That endorsement was promptly followed by endorsements from Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.). Portman’s endorsement has been viewed as a boost for Timken, who has struggled to break into the upper tier of the race. The endorsement could help Timken in the polls and in fundraising. Many Ohio Republicans have wondered whether Portman’s endorsement could be a prelude to an endorsement from former President Trump. 

But the polls’ results raise questions about the effectiveness of Portman’s endorsement. Thirty-eight percent of the party’s primary voters said the endorsement makes them less likely to support Timken, while 43 percent said it makes no difference. Only 19 percent said it makes them more likely to support Timken. 

At the same time, the poll suggested an endorsement from the former president would make voters more likely to support the endorsed candidate. Sixty-two percent of Republican primary voters said Trump’s backing would make them more likely to support a candidate, while 18 percent said it would make them less likely to support the candidate. Another 21 percent said it had no impact. 

The race to replace Portman is one of the more closely watched Senate races. The Cook Political Report rates the race as “lean Republican.” However, Democrats are hoping to make gains in the state, which has been trending Republican in recent years. 

On the Democratic side of the aisle, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) leads the primary field with 31 percent support. Tech executive Traci Johnson received 5 percent support, while LaShondra Tinsley also garnered 5 percent support. Former senior adviser at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Morgan Harper rounded out the field with 4 percent support. A majority of 51 percent of voters said they were undecided. 

The same poll showed President Biden’s approval ratings continuing to trend lower, in what is a negative sign for Democrats ahead of Biden’s first midterm election as president. Fifty-four percent of voters said they disapproved of Biden’s job, while 40 percent said they approved. 

The Hill/Emerson College poll was conducted Feb. 25-26. The Republican primary sample consisted of 410 voters with a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points, while the Democratic primary sample consisted of 313 voters with a margin of error of 5.5 percentage points. The general election sample was made up of 723 voters with a margin of error of 5.5 percentage points. 

Tags Deb Fischer Donald Trump Joe Biden Joni Ernst Rob Portman Shelley Moore Capito Tim Ryan

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