Poll: Ohio Republican Vance Gaining Narrow Edge Over Democrat Ryan in Senate Race

Vance solidifies Republican base; seen as winner in first debate

A Suffolk University/USA TODAY Network poll shows Republican J.D. Vance holds a narrow edge over Democrat Tim Ryan in the fiercely fought race for US Senate in Ohio, but well within the margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points.

Vance leads Ryan, 47%-45%, with 7% of voters still undecided or inclined to choose another candidate. Along with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, Ohio is a closely watched battleground state seen as an opportunity for Democrats to possibly flip a GOP-held seat and maintain their margin of power in the Senate. 

“In our September poll, Vance had not solidified Republican support, coming off a hard-fought Republican primary that he had won with just 32% of the vote,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “In this poll he has improved among core Republican demographics like white voters and men. Vance also has flipped support to his side in the southwest region of Ohio.”

In September, Vance led 52%-40% among men but has stretched that lead to 56%-37%. Among white voters, Vance led 48%-45%, but now leads 52%-43%. And in the Southwest Ohio/Cincinnati region Vance has flipped a deficit of 44%-49% into a lead of 52%-37%.

Vance seen as winner of October 10 debate, exceeded expectations of some viewers

Vance was also seen as the winner of the first US Senate debate held on October 10, though very few likely voters said they watched the debate. Among debate watchers, 45% said Vance did better than expected, while 35% said Ryan exceeded their expectations. In addition, 11% said neither candidate exceeded expectations, while 5% said both, and 4% were undecided. Some 82% of Democrats gave Ryan the nod while 74% of Republicans chose Vance. Among the important subset of independents who watched the debate, 56% said Vance did better than expected compared to 21% for Ryan, while 15% indicated neither, 3% both, and 6% undecided. 

Overall, only 23% of likely midterm voters said they watched the debate. While 28% of men and independents tuned in, just 18% of women watched it.

Among independents, Ryan still leads Vance by a handful of percentage points (44%-41%) largely due to women concerned about abortion rights who more than offset Vance’s lead among independent men.

According to the poll, Vance leads 53%-38% among independent men, but trails Ryan among independent women 52%-28% with a considerably high 20% still undecided.  

“Independent women are undecided in high numbers, likely torn between a faltering Ohio economy and a faltering Supreme Court, which recently overturned the decades-long federal protection for abortion rights,” said Paleologos.

Thirty-nine percent of independent women say abortion is the most important issue in the upcoming election compared to 9% of independent men. Instead, 59% of independent men and 37% of women say the economy/inflation is the most important issue.


The statewide survey of 500 Ohio likely midterm voters was conducted October 11-15 using live telephone interviews of households where respondents indicated they were very or somewhat likely to vote in the November 2022 general election for governor and US Senate. Each area’s quota and demographic information—including party affiliation, gender, race, and age—was determined from midterm exit polls and 2020 census data. The 88 Ohio counties were grouped into five general regions. The margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is +/-4.4 percentage points. Marginals and full cross-tabulation data are posted on the Suffolk University Political Research Center website. For more information, contact David Paleologos at 781-290-9310, [email protected].