Sep 15, 2022 - Politics

Householder who? And other poll takeaways from Ohioans

Illustration of the Columbus skyline, with word balloons with exclamation points in them popping up across the city.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

J.D. Vance and Tim Ryan are not only tied in their U.S. Senate race, they're running away from each party's standard-bearer this fall.

Driving the news: Those are among the takeaways of a Suffolk University/USA Today Network poll of 500 likely Ohio voters released this week.

  • Other insights include:
Top of voters' minds

Inflation/the economy is the most important issue in 2022, 28% of respondents said.

  • This was followed by "threats to democracy" and abortion as voters' most pressing issues.
Biden and Trump impacting Senate race messaging

Most Ohioans view former President Donald Trump unfavorably, just as a majority disapprove of President Joe Biden.

Why it matters: Both Senate candidates are adjusting accordingly.

For Vance, that means burying Trump's support below that of 81 Ohio officials and organizations on his campaign website's endorsements page.

  • Previously, the website displayed the Trump endorsement with a front page pop-up.

Meanwhile, Ryan has publicly aligned himself with Trump's trade policies while distancing himself from the current president.

  • While other Democrats celebrated last week's Intel groundbreaking as a Biden achievement, Ryan suggested at the event that the president shouldn't run for reelection.

State of play: Ryan's rightward tack appears to be working.

Most think Ohio's corrupt

Ohioans are split on if the state is headed in the right direction.

Yes, but: There's no question they think Ohio is corrupt.

  • More than two-thirds of respondents say the state is extremely, very or somewhat corrupt.

Context: This is likely driven by the House Bill 6 scandal, in which FirstEnergy has admitted to paying bribes in exchange for nuclear bailout legislation that passed in 2019.

  • Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder faces trial next year for his alleged involvement in the scheme.

The intrigue: Two years after his high-profile arrest, nearly half of poll respondents have never heard of Householder. Another 25% know of him but have no opinion.

DeWine cruising, Supreme Court in play

Gov. Mike DeWine continues to lead former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley by 15 points in his re-election effort.

  • DeWine even garnered 12% from Democratic voters, a vestige of his rise in public support from early in the pandemic.
  • Half of all voters say they haven't heard of Whaley or have no opinion of her. She is currently running biographical ads in an effort to make up ground.

Separately, a trio of Ohio Supreme Court elections are polling as toss-ups, including a key race for chief justice.

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