CLEVELAND, Ohio – With the general election slate set after Tuesday night’s statewide primaries, Democrats should have some concerns about their chances in November.
Niles-area Rep. Tim Ryan, who is running for Senate, and former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, a gubernatorial hopeful, advanced to the general election easily in the primary election. But there are numerous data points that suggest Ryan and Whaley are in for a very tough climb if they want to become the only Democrats other than Sen. Sherrod Brown to win partisan statewide office
Roughly the margin of Republican votes cast in the primary to Democratic votes. Turnout was way down for Democrats on Tuesday, even though there were contested primary for governor and Senate.
Roughly 500,000 votes were cast in both the Democratic Senate and gubernatorial primaries. Republicans had more than 1 million votes cast in both contests.
That should be disconcerting for Democrats, who have managed to keep primary figures close even in races that aren’t hotly contested. In 2018, Sen. Sherrod Brown, who was unopposed in the primary, logged 613,000 votes compared to the Republican field of 768,000. Brown went on to win that race by more than 300,000 votes in the general election.
That same year, Republicans Mike DeWine and Mary Taylor logged 827,000 votes in the primary compared to the six-way field of Democrats, including eventual nominee Rich Cordray and former Congressman Dennis Kucinich, at around 680,000. Cordray eventually lost to DeWine by nearly 166,000 votes.
The number of votes cast in the Democratic stronghold of Cuyahoga County in the Senate primary. The contested gubernatorial race, which features Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Cheryl Stephens as Whaley’s running mate, was even worse with 85,177.
Those are the lowest totals since 2002, when incumbent Republican Gov. Bob Taft beat former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Tim Hagan by more than 600,000 votes in the general election.
If they manage to boost Cuyahoga County votes to the 335,000 Democrat Ted Strickland won the governor’s office with in 2006, it’d be just the second time since 2000 in a midterm election they would eclipse that total.
Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown tallied more than 350,000 votes from his home county in 2018 en route to a substantial victory in the general election. However, Democrat Rich Cordray’s 323,276 was not enough to overcome DeWine that same year.
How many more Republican votes there were than Democratic votes in Mahoning and Trumbull counties on Tuesday night, according to unofficial results from the secretary of state’s office.
The Mahoning Valley continues to slip away from Democrats, who once had ironclad control over it. Democrats are banking at least partially on Ryan’s roots in the area to help drive turnout, but there seemed to be little enthusiasm for the contested Democratic races Tuesday night.
Perhaps more importantly, author and activist J.D. Vance and DeWine won both of those counties handily in their respective races, showing that they do have support there.
The amount of money spent on advertising in total during the Republican primary, putting Ohio well on path to break the previous spending record of $81 million spent during Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s 2016 re-election campaign against Democratic former Gov. Ted Strickland.
Former Treasurer Josh Mandel was the main beneficiary of independent expenditure committees and that number is inflated by multiple wealthy Republicans injecting personal funds into the race, but it’s a staggering figure compared to any Democratic spending in recent history and shows Republicans are willing to put down high-dollar sums to keep the state in the Republican column.
The amount of money Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel, a Republican megadonor and former Facebook board member, put into Protect Ohio Values, an independent expenditure committee that spent heavily on Vance’s candidacy.
That number is important because it is also more than Ryan has raised on his own, and there is no reason to expect that Thiel, who left his position with Facebook’s parent company to focus on the November election, will not spend heavily on Vance in the general election.
On individual contributions, Ryan is in a better position than Vance, but still lagging Thiel’s bankroll, having collected $11.1 million in individual contributions.
How much former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and Whaley combined raised throughout the primary election, significantly trailing the $8 million collected by DeWine (plus another $1.2 million in in-kind contributions).
That’s also not much more than the $4 million the independently wealthy DeWine loaned himself in the 2018 election, a sum he would likely match at the chance to win a second term.
Coupled with DeWine’s personal fortune, Whaley is likely facing a fundraising deficit through November.
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