What to watch for in the Ohio and Indiana primary elections
On Tuesday, Ohio and Indiana will hold statewide primaries, marking the first multistate election day of the 2022 midterms. Here's what you need to know:
On the Buckeye Ballot
The highest-profile race in Ohio is the Republican Senate primary, in which Hillbilly Elegy author and New Right darling J.D. Vance faces off against former Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel and state Sen. Matt Dolan for the chance to replace retiring Sen. Rob Portman (R). Vance, who began the race near the bottom of the heap, surged into first place last month after receiving former President Donald Trump's endorsement.
Since the endorsement, Mandel and investment banker Mike Gibbons — both of whom aggressively sought Trump's stamp of approval — have dipped in the polls, while the non-Trumpist Dolan has enjoyed a last-minute surge.
Final polling by Trafalgar had Vance in the lead with 26.2 percent of the vote, Dolan in second place with 22 percent, and Mandel in third with 20.8 percent. 8.6 percent of voters remained undecided.
The poll surveyed 1,081 likely GOP primary voters between Friday and Sunday and had an error margin of around 3 percent. An Ohio NBC affiliate noted that the poll's error margin "mathematically puts Vance, Dolan and Mandel in contention for the lead, because each candidate's advantage could swing by six points if the poll were conducted again."
In the Democratic primary, Rep. Tim Ryan (D) is heavily favored to advance to the general election, which the Cook Political Report rates as "lean R."
Incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine (R) will likely defeat his primary challengers by a comfortable margin and go on to win a second term as governor. Mayor John Cranley of Cincinnati and Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton — who would be the first woman in state history to win a major party's nomination for governor — will face each other in the Democratic primary for the chance to challenge him.
The only other contested primary on the statewide ballot is for secretary of state, with former state Rep. John Adams (R) challenging Trump-backed incumbent Frank LaRose (R).
Ohio Republicans control 12 of the state's seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, while Democrats control four. Of the 30 primaries for the 15 seats on Tuesday's ballots — Ohio lost one seat in the 2020 census — 18 are contested. 13 of the 15 seats are held by incumbents seeking reelection, eight of whom face primary challengers. Two of those seats are considered toss-ups in the general election.
Trump has endorsed two Ohio congressional candidates — Max Miller (R) in the state's 7th Congressional District and Madison Gesiotto Gilbert in the 13th.
The Associated Press notes that early voting is down 40 percent from 2018, suggesting that many voters may not be aware that there is an election on Tuesday due to protracted court battles over redistricting that left the date of the election in limbo. Due to those same court battles, Tuesday's ballots will not include state legislative races.
Hoosiers at the Polls
Incumbent Sen. Todd C. Young (R), who is seeking his second term, is running unopposed in the primary and is expected to skate to victory in the general election.
Primary candidates for all nine of Indiana's seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, seven of which are controlled by Republicans, will also appear on the ballot on Tuesday. One of the Democratic incumbents and five of the GOP incumbents face no primary challengers.
Among those seeking reelection is two-term Rep. Greg Pence (R), who represents Indiana's 6th Congressional District and is the older brother of former Vice President Mike Pence. Despite Trump's animosity toward his former VP, the former president endorsed Greg Pence on Friday. The elder Pence faces quirky primary challenger James Dean Alspatch. In 2018, Alspatch mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge to Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R) in Indiana's 9th Congressional District, pledging to change his name to "James Dean" and run for president if he won the primary.
None of these seats is likely to flip in the general election, with eight of the nine rated as "solid" for the incumbent party by the Cook Political Report. Cook rates the race for Indiana's 1st Congressional District — currently held by Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan — as "lean Democratic."
According to AP, more than a dozen Republican members of Indiana's House of Representatives, in which the GOP holds a supermajority, are facing primary challenges from the right. Brittany Carroll, who is running for a seat in central Indiana, says she wants to see her state lead the charge on culture war issues "like Florida, like Texas."
Coming soon to voting booth near you...
On Saturday, Texans will head to the polls to vote on two amendments to the state constitution dealing with school property taxes. Nebraska and West Virginia will hold statewide primaries on May 10, followed by Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, and Pennsylvania on May 17.
Nebraska and West Virginia have no senators up for reelection, and both are overwhelmingly likely to elect or reelect Republican governors.
In Pennsylvania, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolfe and GOP Sen. Pat Toomey are retiring. Republican gubernatorial candidates Lou Barletta and Doug Mastriano are running neck-and-neck for the chance to challenge Democrat Josh Shapiro, who is running unopposed in the primary. As for the Senate seat, former hedge fund CEO David McCormick is in a tight race with Trump-endorsed television star Mehmet Oz for the GOP nomination. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), a former small-town mayor who previously ran for Senate in 2016, enjoys a 20-point lead over primary opponent Rep. Connor Lamb (D).
In North Carolina, recent polling had Rep. Ted Budd, who scored an endorsement from Trump back in June, leading former Gov. Pat McRory in the Republican primary for the state's open Senate seat. Cheri Beasley, the former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, is heavily favored to win the Democratic primary for the same seat.