J.D. Vance has taken the lead over his Democratic opponent in Ohio’s Senate race since debating him earlier this month, according to the latest polling.
The Republican political outsider faced Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) in a pair of debates held on October 10 and 17, and since then Vance’s poll numbers have seen a bump.
Vance is up by 4.1% over Ryan in a Cygnal poll, beyond the poll’s 2.58% margin of error. The poll was conducted from October 14-18 and surveyed nearly 1,500 likely voters in Ohio.
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Ryan still leads by about 8% among Independents, but his popularity among those voters is not enough to put him in the lead.
Notably, Vance leads by a huge margin among Ohio voters who have an unfavorable view of President Joe Biden, 72% to 19%.
Biden has struggled to keep his favorability and job approval numbers above water in recent weeks. Nearly 53% of people have an unfavorable view of the president, compared to as low as 38% when he was elected, according to some polls. His job approval numbers are even worse, with about 54% of people saying they disapprove of the job Biden is doing, according to Real Clear Politics.
Other polls had shown Vance beating Ryan but only within the margin of error, essentially putting the candidates in a dead heat.
According to the Real Clear Politics average of polls, Vance now leads Ryan by 2.5 percentage points.
One earlier poll in September had shown Ryan with a statistical lead, but the most recent polls either show Vance leading or the candidates tied.
Vance, a venture capitalist who first became known through his 2016 memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” is running on a platform of being a “conservative outsider” who “knows what it’s like to live in a left-behind community” and will fight for normal Americans.
On Monday in their last debate before the election, both Vance and Ryan went on the attack, sparring over racism and immigration, among other topics.
Ryan accused Vance of “peddling” an anti-immigration conspiracy theory called “white replacement theory.” Vance accused Ryan of “slander” and called him “disgusting” for those accusations.
“Here’s exactly what happens when the media and people like Tim Ryan accuse me of engaging in great replacement theory,” Vance said from the debate stage.
“What happens is my own children — my biracial children — get attacked by scumbags online and in person, because you are so desperate for political power that you’ll accuse me, the father of three beautiful biracial babies, of engaging in racism. We are sick of it,” said Vance, whose wife is Indian American.
Vance also defended his stance on immigration control.
“You can believe in the border without being a racist,” he said.
In their earlier debate, Ryan attempted to paint Vance as part of a fringe element, saying he is “running around with the election deniers, the extremists.”
Vance responded that Ryan is focused on the wrong concerns.
“I find it interesting how preoccupied you are with this at a time when people can’t afford groceries,” Vance said.
The Ohio Senate election is one of several closely watched Senate races this election cycle, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina, and New Hampshire.