Notes on the Ohio Primary Election Results

Because we had a primary election yesterday (here are a link to the results, from the Columbus Dispatch), and I have notes:

1. The big news, such as it is, is that Trump-supported JD Vance won the GOP primary for US Senate, beating Josh Mandel and Matt Dolan, who were his immediate runners-up, and a field of four other candidates. JD Vance has revealed himself to be a craven sycophantic remora enthusiastically attached to Trump’s sphincter, and is apparently happy to toss democracy aside for his own personal advancement, so you might be surprised when I tell you that his winning was only the second worst option in the GOP primary, since Josh Mandel is all those things and more, and has been at it longer than Vance, of whom it can be said that at least he is an arriviste when it comes ambitious culture war neo-fascism, whereas Mandel has been there for a while.

What would have been interesting is what would have happened had Trump not opened his yap and endorsed Vance (well, sort of; it’s pretty clear that Trump has only the vaguest idea of who he endorsed and why, even when that candidate is on the same stage). I suspect that Josh Mandel might have squeaked out the nomination, which is appalling, but well, that’s where the Ohio GOP is today.

The one mild surprise is that Matt Dolan, whose brand was “Trump ain’t all that” nearly edged out Mandel for second place. Dolan actually won three counties in Ohio, the ones Columbus and Cleveland are in, and the county next to Cleveland filled with well-off liberals and Democrats, which suggests a non-trivial number of people voting for him were, in fact, actual liberals/Democrats — Ohio allows you to choose at the polling station which primary ballot you wish to fill out (Democratic, Republican or non-partisan, the latter of which is usually for local initiatives or tax levies). Again, would have been interesting to see where he might have landed had Trump not inserted himself. But then, Trump was never not going to insert himself.

2. On the topic of “Liberals/Democrats strategically voting in the Republican primary,” it be at least some of the reason that the Democratic senatorial primary vote was only 48% of the GOP senate primary vote, with a very similar percentage for the gubernatorial primaries. It was also because there was far less drama involved; everyone expected Tim Ryan to win it, which he did, handily, with nearly 70% of the primary vote — Ryan in fact received more primary votes (nearly 356k) than Vance, the Republican primary winner (nearly 341k).

Is there something to be readily gleaned from these numbers, when it comes to the senatorial race in November? Maybe but possibly not. Ohio has more registered Democrats (947k) than Republicans (836k) and both of these numbers are easily swallowed by the number of unaffiliated voters (6.2m), and across the state only 18.8% of eligible voters turned out. Which means that our senatorial candidates were decided by roughly 4.4% of our electorate in both cases. So that’s great, and also leaves lots of room for things to happen in the general, in which possibly 36% of our electorate will vote.

I would not hazard a guess as to whether Ryan or Vance will win in November, because a lot will depend on the economy, whether Trump is actually arraigned on something (probably not, but one never knows), and whether the Supreme Court will follow that draft opinion and decide people with uteruses need fewer rights than those who don’t. But I can tell you that Ryan will run a campaign largely focused on the economic and and day-to-day issues that affect average Ohioans, and Vance will run a screaming, hate-filled campaign based on racism, identity politics and authoritarianism, because this is where we are in Ohio in 2022.

3. On the gubernatorial front, it’s Mike DeWine, the current governor, against Nan Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton, and while I expect the senatorial race to be close (indeed, closer than I would like it to be given who is running and their expected platforms), I’m pretty sure DeWine is going to win this one in a walk. DeWine is generally popular (60% approval rating) and he’s old school GOP, which means he doesn’t automatically despise science or go out of his way to punish people who don’t lick his shoes. He’s not great (he happily signed punitive antiabortion laws), but he’s not actively hateful. That’ll probably work for most Ohioans. Again, anything could happen (and I won’t be voting for DeWine, personally), but unless shit gets real bad in Ohio and it can be directly traced to what DeWine’s doing, he’s probably safe.

4. Also safe: my US representative Warren Davidson, who won his primary by 40 percentage points and who faces a Democratic opponent he’s faced twice before, beating her by an at least 2:1 margin both times. OH-8 has not gone Democratic since the Depression, and 2022 is not the year that’s going to change, no matter how bad things get for Trump sycophants in the coming months. The GOP could run a wet sock in OH-8 and it would win.

5. What didn’t get voted on yesterday: Ohio House and Senate seats, since the Ohio GOP keeps trying to gerrymander the election maps despite an actual voter-approved directive not to do so, and the Ohio Supreme Court keeps calling the Ohio GOP on their shit. We’ll have to do a second primary election now, probably in August, at a cost of several millions of dollars, and it will likely have even fewer voters than yesterday’s. Hooray for democracy!

Yes, I will be voting in that one, too. I always vote. So should you.

— JS

27 Comments on “Notes on the Ohio Primary Election Results”

  1. I have to take a slight exception to the blanket statement/ideal that everyone should vote.

    People should only vote, if they are willing to do at least the very minimal due diligence to do so in a somewhat informed manner.

    Several cycles ago, a researcher asked ““As far as you know, is Gov. Jerry Brown up for re-election this year?” on a statewide survey of 457 likely voters last week.” and 42% of the people surveyed didn’t know that the then governor was running for RE-election, And among Republicans polled, only 30% could name their parties candidate who was running in opposition.

    If you’re not going to make any effort to be an informed voter, I question whether or not your vote is helping things at all.

  2. “People with uteruses need fewer rights than those who don’t” – but really, hasn’t the Supreme Court, in its majestic equality, deemed that people with and without uteruses have the same rights; those rights not to include access to abortions?

    (Yes, this is sarcasm; look up “majestic equality” if you don’t recognise the source.)

  3. I’m in Texas, a perpetually red state. Until a few years ago, the GOP could field some good candidates in Harris County even for the courts, some getting my vote. Now purity tests have made their way all the way down the ballot.

    FWIW, SCOTUS overturning abortion rights won’t move the needle here enough to make much difference. smh

  4. Wouldn’t it be great if the GOP did run a wet sock? It’d be so much less harmful than any of the people they actually put on ballots. Clearly we need to make a push come the next election cycle – Wet Sock ’24!

  5. Let’s not forget that in 2016, Vance damned Trump pretty harshly before he drank the Kool-Aid, bent the knee and took six of the best from his new Master. (“Thank you, sir. May I have another.”)

    So, for anyone who says Vance has no principles, nonsense! HE does. It’s “say anything to win.”

  6. I read Hillbilly Elegy when it was a new book and I was with Vance all the way through his family saga until the last couple of chapters. All of a sudden I was in the middle of typical Big Lebowski conservative style bootstrapping. “I was poor and now I’m not, and if you’re still poor, it’s because you’re not working hard enough, like I did.” No, thanks.

  7. Sigh. I live in Josh Hawley’s, Billy Long’s and Roy Blunt’s districts. As you can imagine, there’s no hope of any blue candidate or even a sane GOP candidate* winning anything. (We didn’t have an election yesterday.) This place is terrifying to intelligent life forms.

    *I doubt there are any sane ones in MO.

  8. Thanks for your comments on Ohio primary.
    Since you’re on the ground in Ohio and I’m not, I’m partly relieved to read that you think Vance was/is only the second worst option. I just wonder: are you solid in that view?
    I’ve been much more alarmed by the Vance candidacy once I learned the author of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ is supported by Trump on the one side and that menace named Peter Thiel on the other. See
    Mandel appears to me to be a straight up Trump fanatic, which isn’t great, but scares me less.
    Neither Thiel nor Vance appear to be straight up Trumpers, but may well be cynically allying with Trump’s current popularity.
    Thiel, who doesn’t appear to believe in any continuing value of nation-states, seems to be funding candidates most likely and willing to succeed at tearing down our country’s political and legal structures. As a Yale Law grad, I imagine Vance would be as capable as any in undermining the legitimacy of political and legal systems. Based on reviews I read of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ (glad I never spent $ on the book, at this point), I’d bet he’d moderate his spin well enough to appeal to some “moderate” voters in Ohio. I don’t know what Vance really believes “in his heart,” but allied with Thiel, and with Thiel’s mentorship and financial backing, Vance is dangerous. Do you know whether folks who used to work with Gawker affiliates have any comment?
    Any thoughts on actions concerned folks outside of Ohio (of limited means) might take to promote a more positive outcome in the general election?

  9. “He’s not great (he happily signed punitive antiabortion laws), but he’s not actively hateful. ”

    I….would argue that makes him actively hateful.

  10. Also, Vance is not (as yet showing himself to be) a religious fanatic of the sort Mandel is clearly proud to be. I mean, he’s still abominable but he was not the worst person on the GOP slate.

  11. My family expected me to move back to Ohio when I retired from the military. I didn’t expect the place to get this bad, and I live in a purple patch surrounded by the Ungovernable Tribal Regions of the PNW, but Washington state elects sane governors and congresscritters for the most part.
    Offer is apparently not valid in Spokane Valley and points northwest, extending to the Canadian border.

    Assad – Ol’ JD probably isn’t a religious fanatic, but he will have to play one harder and harder for the rest of his career to keep up with his chosen party – there will be no functional difference. Mandel is Jewish and started trumpeting Christofascism. In that party, as a bygone Southern politician groused after losing to a stone racist, you can’t afford to be out-N-(clang)ed.


    re: the Supremes, the only surprise is that the Furious Five decided to ditch Roberts’ careful salami slicing in favor of flaunting their new power. I suspect a lot of Republican pols would rather this have been kept under the rose for a while.

  12. > Why do people who wouldn’t write Grand Old Party still write GOP? >>

    It’s short.


  13. Completely agree on DeWine. I won’t vote for him, he’s gonna win, there are worse things.
    @Joseph Finn. He signed some pretty nasty bills, yes, but it was mostly stuff he did not actually push for (unlike a number of other R governors). He’s definitely not great, at the very least he lacks the backbone to really stand up against the party extremists on most issues, but he does pretty consistently nudge things toward the center when possible. And he’s actually competent, his pandemic response was probably the best in the country by a Republican governor (there was a point when it really looked like that was a career ending move, but apparently the pro-plague folks are a lot of noise and very little actual follow up.)

    Anyhow, while I can live with him winning, if Haley edges out any kind of a win, I’ll be ecstatic. (If she beats him solidly, I’m looking for horses in the sky, or at least pigs)

  14. Thiel is a misogynist who claims women having the vote is bad and date rape in college is just buyer’s remorse. Vance, in a recent Vanity Fair article, says his vision for the new era that comes after we get rid of democracy (which he quite openly wants to do) is for a society where his son won’t have to be “ashamed” of his masculinity. It’s never good when people say crap like that.
    My thoughts and links to Vanity Fair piece at

  15. 1) Mandel has had enough time to build a history, and while Vance has no experience and is happy to remora himself to Trump’s nether regions, he’s not as actively evil as Mandel. I’m not even sure the Marines are happy to have had him. The only way I would have voted for either is if Pol Pot or ISIS’s candidate won the Democratic primary.
    2) What else do they have other than culture war? They don’t have fiscal (or any other) responsibility, they don’t have the moral high ground, they can claim religious motivation only if you haven’t actually read the document they claim to live by, and they cannot in most cases claim to even be decent (and those that are are happy to let the others run the show).

  16. I held my nose and voted for Mandel because any Trump-endorsed candidate is a worse option.

  17. I voted in the Ohio primaries! absentee from Canada. I voted for Morgan Harper (a Black former foster child who stands for really good things and does a lot of grassroots work in anti-poverty and anti-violence), but I am not devastated Tim Ryan won.

  18. You made me look up the definition for remora. Funny and entirely fitting.

  19. I agree that the True Believer is worse than the Opportunist.

    But it’s the percentages John cites that show that election indifference may destroy us. Too many of the people actively voting (a) want to let the system burn down, or (b) support their god in imposing the end times. Some of these votes have to be like many of Trump’s votes (at least to start): I hate the Man, so let’s elect a joker. And we’re getting all these lesser jokers in the House. I feel awful.

  20. The GOP gerrymandered the US Congressional districts as well, putting a small portion of Hamilton County (including me) in Warren Davidson’s district. Oh joy. On the other hand, if you ever decide to run for Congress, I can vote for you! Run, John run!!!

  21. Vance is ok he’s an opportunist but at least he’s no wet noodle like Ryan. I expect he’ll mold himself into a DeSantis clone before long. Welcome Gen X you’re living up to your nickname.

  22. Hi, John.
    Just nitpicking : in French, arriviste means ‘somebody who would do anything to rise in society’, not somebody who just recently arrived.

  23. Regarding Ohio redistricting, the following thought occurred to me: If the legislative districts are unconstitutional (but still used), doesn’t that mean that any legislators elected under it are also unconstitutional? And that any bills such an unconstitutionally constituted legislature passes are also automatically null and void? (Of course, with Maureen O’Connor retiring, we’ll probably never have a chance to find out.)

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