Former President Donald Trump continues to wield major post-White House influence in ways that make some politicos look on in awe and others cringe with fury.
The 45th president picked a candidate last week in Ohio’s crowded GOP primary for retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s seat and that candidate — “Hillybilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance is now polling at the top of the field.
Fox News reports:
Support for author J.D. Vance has doubled in the Ohio Republican Senate primary race, catapulting him ahead of earlier frontrunners former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel and businessman Mike Gibbons — although many voters remain undecided or uncertain about their vote.
That’s according to a Fox News survey of Ohio voters participating in the May 3 GOP primary.
Vance receives the backing of 23% of primary voters, up 12 points since last month. Mandel gets 18% (down 2 points), while Gibbons stands at 13% (down 9). State Sen. Matt Dolan comes in at 11% (+4) and former Ohio GOP chair Jane Timken gets 6% (-3).
The contest appears fluid. Vance’s 5-point advantage is within the survey’s margin of sampling error — and the largest number of primary voters, 25%, remains undecided about their vote. Moreover, half of those currently supporting a candidate say they could change their mind.
Still, prior to Trump’s endorsement and rally in Ohio on Saturday, Vance was struggling; he was polling towards the bottom of the pack and was nearly out of money.
More than $5 million in new donations have poured into a pro-Vance super PAC — just weeks earlier, it had spent nearly all of its available funds. Vance, the author of the book “Hillbilly Elegy,” has taken the lead in polling for the first time since entering the crowded Republican primary in July.
“I would not have told you, you know, a week ago that we were in a position to win convincingly,” Vance said in an interview Wednesday. “I felt pretty good about the race a week ago, but now I feel very good about it.”
“The race is obviously close, and this is clearly a case in which an endorsement has made a difference,” Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts Fox News surveys with Democrat Chris Anderson, told Fox News.
“With support spread out among five candidates who are pretty similar in policy terms, the bump that comes with Trump’s blessing is enough to jump Vance to the head of the pack.”