How Donald Trump Will Deliver Ohio A 2nd Democratic Senator
In a bid to be Trump 2.0, Republican candidates for the open Senate seat may be hand-delivering Democrats a winning strategy.
Earlier this year when Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) announced his retirement, a flurry of speculation about who would run to replace him on both the Democratic and Republican tickets during the 2022 midterm elections sprung up. Arguably one of the most important election cycles of the 21st century right behind the 2020 Presidential election, a number of candidates have announced their intent to run for the nomination.
On the Republican side, the most prominent and most likely candidates include Jane Timken (former chair of the Ohio Republican Party), Josh Mandel (former Ohio State Treasurer and 2012 and 2018 U.S. Senate nominee), and Mike Gibbons (an investment banker). On the Democratic side, Tim Ryan (OH-13 Congressman since 2013) is the only candidate to declare his intent to run with others having rumors about their prospective candidacy.
But why the focus on a race that was won by Senator Portman with a margin of 20.8% over Democratic challenger Ted Strickland? With a sweeping upset in the 2020 election, President Biden beat incumbent President Trump, Democrats suffered losses but kept control of the House of Representatives, and Democrats won control of the Senate be it by a 50–50 split. 2022 will be a make-or-break year for the Democratic agenda with control on the line. Ohio will be a prime opportunity for Democrats to expand their majority, or in the worst-case scenario keep the 50–50 split if other states like Georgia are lost. And as more days go by, the race appears to be leaning more and more in the Democrat's favor.
The truth of the matter is that even though Trump lost the Presidential election in 2020, he beat President Biden by a whopping 8.03%. Senator Sherrod Brown was able to keep his seat in 2018 by a narrower margin of 6.8%. Trump remains popular in the state but his message around the election being stolen and the aftermath of the January 6th insurrection might be enough to derail his efforts to keep Ohio red in the future.
A noticeable trend has been occurring over the last few election cycles starting in 2018 with the suburbs turning bluer and rural America turning redder. Republican candidates across the state have begun latching on to the messages Trump puts out in an effort to keep his base engaged for their reelection efforts. The data shows that with Trump on the ballot, participation increases. With Trump's name off the ballot, it is vaguer but there is a reason Democrats won back the House in 2018: his messaging turned off certain persuadable voters. But this hasn’t stopped individuals like Josh Mandel from pushing these messages anyway. This is where Democrats could have the advantage.
Throughout Trump’s presidency, he has utilized a dangerous but effective technique to drive his voters: outrageous accusations followed by gaslighting. Republican candidates have noticed its effectiveness and taken up the strategy to benefit their own races as well. Let me give an example. When Trump began to promote the idea of the “Big Lie”, it mainly fell flat until the media and left amplified the message through outrage.
The left and media covered the “Big Lie” as ridiculous and an attempt to subvert democracy which Trump used as a weapon to tell his voters that the left and the media were being alarmist by trying to discredit both his and his voter's worries about possible election fraud and interference.
NOTE: It must be said that there has been no evidence of widespread fraud that would have impacted the final outcome of the election.
If Democrats across the country, mainly in the state of Ohio, stop engaging the messages in the way we have but instead go directly to the voters with our initiatives and why they are better for them individually, we can overcome the advantage Republicans have in the messaging game. So in the end, let Jane Timken, Josh Mandel, or whoever the eventual nominee say and do the outlandish things they will inevitably say or do to be the most Trumpy candidate. It will only hurt them and benefit the democratic nominee if we allow it to.
If Donald Trump was smart, he would realize that he cost the GOP two Senators from Georgia through his actions after the election. And it very well may end up costing the GOP a few more in states across the country if he is allowed to remain the de facto head of the Republican Party.