By Jim EllisFeb. 15, 2022 — At the end of January, a Cygnal research poll found investment banker and 2018 Ohio US Senate candidate Mike Gibbons forging into a small lead over perennial GOP primary leader Josh Mandel, the state’s former treasurer and 2012 US Senate nominee. Two new polls now confirm Gibbons’ outright lead in the battle to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman.
The previously released internal Gibbons’ campaign Cygnal January poll (Jan. 28-30; 929 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, SMS text & email) gave their candidate a 16-13 percent lead over Mandel, with author J.D. Vance showing in double-digits at 10 percent.
The new pair of statewide Buckeye State Republican US Senate primary surveys find the businessman again overtaking Mandel to claim first place. A co/efficent independent survey (Feb. 6-8; 613 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, text & automated interview responses) posts Gibbons to a 20-18 percent lead over Mandel, with state senator and Cleveland Guardians MLB club minority owner Mike Dolan, former state Republican Party chair Jane Timken, and Vance trailing with 7, 6 and 5 percent support, respectively.
The new Cyngal research firm’s internal poll for the Gibbons campaign (Feb. 8-10; 609 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, SMS text & email), however, gives their candidate a much larger margin over the rest of the field.
One possible reason for the increase in support is that another business candidate, car dealer Bernie Moreno, who had reached as high as 11 percent in a January poll, withdrew from the race in early February, reportedly at the behest of former President Donald Trump. It is conceivable that much of the Moreno support base went to Gibbons, since the two candidates were similar in several ways.
The most recent Cygnal numbers find Gibbons holding a surprisingly large 23 percent support figure, with Mandel, Vance, Timken, and Dolan trailing with 11, 9, 8 and 6 percent, respectively. The Gibbons’ media blitz, to an extent featuring Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) endorsing the investment banker’s candidacy, has clearly achieved its goal of propelling Gibbons into serious contention for the party nomination that will be decided in the open May 3 primary election.
Though the study’s analysis report doesn’t provide segmented numbers, the Cygnal pollsters claim the Gibbons lead is widespread within the key Republican voter groups. They report Gibbons leads by double digits among “self-identified Trump Republicans as well as Traditional Republicans.”
Gibbons also maintains similar leads with “self-identified Extremely Conservative, Very Conservative, and Somewhat Conservative voters, and over the nearest competitor among both men and women.” He also “holds strong advantages among Evangelical Protestants, Mainline Protestants, and Catholic voters.”
Gibbons’ effort is almost exclusively self-financed, to the tune of $11.4 million, all as a loan to the campaign. He has spent $5.8 million and had a cash-on-hand reserve of $6.4 million at the end of 2021. Therefore, even if his fundraising operation does not raise major money, Gibbons has enough to compete for the nomination.
Mandel began the race with more than $5 million in his account from previous races, and had accumulated an additional $2.1 million for this campaign. His cash-on-hand total shown in the Dec. 31 financial disclosure report was just under $6 million, equivalent with Gibbons.
Vance had raised $1.6 million with just over $1 million remaining to spend. Timken reported campaign-to-date receipts of $6.9 million of which $3.5 million was self-contributed in the form of a loan to the campaign. She held $3.6 million in her campaign treasurer as January began. State Sen. Dolan, another self-funder, had contributed and loaned his campaign just under $10.5 million and held almost all of it in his treasury.
With polling close in most surveys, and all of the major candidates having seven figures remaining to spend, and some backed with further outside spending, we will see hard fought campaigning develop in March and April. Virtually all of the contenders have a path to victory in the Republican primary, and the eventual party nominee will likely be at least a slight favorite in the general election based upon the most recent Ohio voting trends.
US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) is becoming a prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination and will be a competitive general election candidate. Should the much discussed Republican wave actually transpire, Ryan would be hard-pressed to win the race, but there is no guarantee as to how the political climate will unfold as we approach the voting months of October and November.