AP Photo/Joe Maiorana Republicans in Ohio go to the polls on Tuesday to choose a candidate to run for Senate in November, and at the moment, it appears that it will be a battle between Trump-endorsed author J.D. Vance and former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.
The latest Emerson poll of “very likely voters” finds Vance ahead with 26%, Mandel with 24%, state senator Matt Dolan surging with 21%, and businessman Mike Gibbons fading to 17%.
Vance and Dolan are the only candidates who have gained ground since the Emerson poll taken in March. Trump’s endorsement of Vance has propelled him ahead of the field, but Dolan’s rise is something of a mystery.
It could be that Dolan has firmly established himself as the Never Trump alternative in the race. Every other major candidate paid homage to the former president, hoping for his endorsement. But Dolan was the only candidate who refused to kiss the ring.
Related: Was Trump’s Endorsement of J.D. Vance for Senate a Mistake?
In a multi-candidate field, it doesn’t take a majority to win. While the pro-Trump vote is going to be fractured, can a lone Never Trumper win a large enough plurality to prevail?
Politico: “I think there’s mounting evidence that he’s in a scenario where he’s running up the middle, unmolested, with a unique message and some things in his favor,” said Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist who lives out of state but donated $250 to Dolan’s campaign in October. “Does it mean he has a lock on the race? No way. But it’s a competitive race, and he’s in it. He’s got the momentum, as of last week.” Dolan likely has a low ceiling of support, given his dependence on Republican voters who are willing to move on from Trump — a minority of the party. […]
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