Monday, February 07, 2022


J.D. Vance's Ohio Senate campaign has grabbed a lot of headlines, but Politico reports that he can't close the sale.
A 98-page PowerPoint presentation produced by Tony Fabrizio, who has been polling for the pro-Vance Protect Ohio Values super PAC since last year, paints a dire picture of the candidate’s prospects. According to the slide deck, Vance has seen a “precipitous decline” in Ohio’s GOP Senate primary since last fall, when a pair of outside groups backing a rival began a multimillion-dollar TV advertising blitz using five-year-old footage of Vance attacking former President Donald Trump.

... Fabrizio, who is also a longtime Trump pollster, wrote in the presentation that Vance is “now underwater with strong Trump” supporters “and very conservative voters, groups needed to win a GOP primary.” He added that Vance’s “association as a Never Trumper has only grown since November” and that “being anti-Trump is the #1 reason voters do not like Vance.”

... Vance’s decline follows a $2 million-plus TV ad campaign from the Club for Growth and USA Freedom Fund, outside groups that are backing Vance rival Josh Mandel, which have portrayed Vance as an anti-Trump figure. The commercials, which use footage from 2016, show Vance describing himself as a “Never Trump guy” and calling Trump an “idiot,” “noxious” and “offensive,” appear to have made a dent. According to the slide deck, “anti-Trump is by far the top thing the 50% of voters who have seen an ad about Vance remember.”
Fabrizio's polling showed Vance in fifth place, with 9% of the vote (Mandel is in first, with 15%).

Vance has positioned himself as pro-Trump.

It doesn't matter. His old remarks are killing him.

But why? I keep hearing that Trump's influence on the GOP is diminishing. Smart people say that Trump could lose a primary in 2024. We're told that his endorsements of 2022 candidates haven't made those candidates automatic front-runners. (Though his record was always spotty -- remember when he endorsed Luther Strange in the 2017 Alabama Senate election and Roy Moore won the primary, then he endorsed Moore and Democrat Doug Jones won the general election?)

Trump might not have the magic touch, but crossing Trump is still the greatest imaginable heresy to Republican voters, unless Trump has given you absolution for your past sins. (See, e.g., Lindsey Graham when he ran for reelection in 2020.)

We'll see if winning the support of Marjorie Taylor Greene will partly compensate for Vance's past deviations from correct thinking. I think it won't be enough. You can poll Trump's influence in the GOP all you want -- he's still sacrosanct.

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