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Ohio Senate showdown: Republican JD Vance has slight edge over Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan

Republican JD Vance holds a razor-thin edge over Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in Ohio’s open Senate seat race, according to a new poll.

Vance, a former hedge fund executive and best-selling author, stands at 41.6% support among likely Ohio general election voters, according to a USA Today Network Ohio/Suffolk University survey released Wednesday.

JD VANCE AND REP. TIM RYAN WAGE BATTLE OF THE POPULISTS IN OHIO’S OPEN SENATE SEAT RACE

Ryan, the longtime congressman from northeast Ohio, was backed by 39.4% of those questioned in the poll. Nearly 17% were undecided.

Vance’s 2.2 percentage point margin was within the survey’s sampling error, meaning the two candidates are virtually tied in the race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman. The showdown could potentially end up being one of a handful of contests that determine if Republicans win back the Senate majority in November’s midterm elections.

TRUMP-BACKED VANCE WINS TUMULTOUS GOP SENATE PRIMARY IN OHIO

As expected, Vance and Ryan hold overwhelming leads among voters in their own parties, with the congressman currently up 43%-32% among independent voters.

Ryan, who’s championed the working class during his many years in Congress and during his unsuccessful 2020 White House run, handily bested two lesser-known rivals to win the May 3 Democratic Senate primary election in Ohio. 

Rep. Tim Ryan answers a question during a primary debate on March 28, 2022, at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.

Vance had a much more difficult path to victory in a crowded and brutal GOP showdown for the party’s nomination 

Donald Trump’s endorsement of Vance less than three weeks before the primary catapulted the candidate to victory over rivals who also sought the former president’s backing. Vance ran a populist primary campaign that spotlighted his support for Trump’s America First agenda.

TRUMP WASN’T ON THE BALLOT BUT WAS A BIG WINNER IN OHIO’S GOP PRIMARIES

Pointing to President Biden’s negative 37%-57% approval rating among Ohioans in the new survey, Suffolk University’s Political Research Center director David Paleologos told Fox News “the awful economy is dragging down Biden and the Democrats, and it could get worse if the U.S. plunges into a deep recession come November.”

But Paleologos also suggested that “inflation will be under control by November and Democrats like Ryan – who is currently winning among Independents – will be able to build on his personal popularity.”

Democracy 2022 FOX News Senator Power Rankings

According to the poll, Ryan has a 40%-23% favorable/unfavorable rating among Ohio voters, with Vance slightly underwater at 35%-38%.

Ryan told Fox News Digital in response to the new poll: “We’re gonna win this thing… I understand Ohio, I know what people are going through. I know the pain, I’ve been here in the foxhole with them, and now we’re rebuilding.”

Ohio was once a top general election battleground state, but Trump won it by eight points in both his 2016 White House victory and in his 2020 re-election defeat. And the GOP’s controlled the state’s governorship for all but four years during the past three decades. A recent statewide exception was progressive Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s nearly seven-point re-election victory in 2018.

The poll was conducted May 22-24, with 500 likely Ohio general election voters questioned. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Fox News’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report.

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