Republican JD Vance and U.S. Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) are locked in a tight race to represent Ohio in the U.S. Senate, but the GOP is moving to push Vance ahead with a major advertising purchase. 

The Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) announced Thursday it will buy $28 million worth of broadcast ads to air across the Buckeye State beginning on Labor Day. National Republican organizations have spent only about $5 million in Ohio so far in Vance’s contest with Ryan. 

Two major poll aggregators differ slightly on the race’s outlook so far. Presently, Ryan holds a 1.2-point lead in FiveThirtyEight’s Ohio Senate polling average so far. Vance, an author, attorney, and venture capitalist, meanwhile leads Ryan by 3 percent in the RealClearPolitics polling average. 

In an analysis of the data, statistician Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight referred to his own site’s election forecast as “confused.” He notes that although polls – with the exception of a recent Emerson College survey that put Vance slightly ahead – have tended to favor Ryan, factoring in “fundamentals” like Ohio’s tendency to favor the GOP statewide suggests Vance’s chances are better. 

SLF’s investment in Ohio advertising won’t be its largest state effort this year. The organization has spent significantly in other battleground states, including Georgia ($37.1 million), Pennsylvania ($34.1 million), North Carolina ($27.6 million), Wisconsin ($15.2 million), Nevada ($15.1 million), and Arizona ($14.4 million). 

Leftists are sounding the alarm to Democrats in Ohio about the Republicans’ advertising plans even as they downplay Vance’s position in the race. 

“BREAKING: [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-KY] panics over MAGA candidate J.D. Vance’s failing Senate campaign in Ohio and decides to use a PAC to pump a staggering $28 million into ad campaigns in his state — proving that he’s scared of Democrat Tim Ryan,” the progressive organization Occupy Democrats tweeted upon learning of the SLF ad buy. 

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “J.D. Vance” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.