The video above is Sunday, Oct. 23 episode of NBC4’s political show “The Spectrum with Colleen Marshall” where both candidates and the latest polling are discussed.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The showdown between Republican J.D. Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan is teeing up to be Ohio’s most competitive statewide race.

With less than two weeks until Election Day on Nov. 8, Ohioans are flocking to the polls and the post office to eventually end what is currently a virtual tie between them – the narrowest margin between Ohio candidates vying to secure a state-level seat, according to polling data from RealClearPolitics.

Ryan, 49, of Mahoning Valley, is serving his 10th term in Congress, where he represents Ohio’s 13th U.S. House District. 

An alumnus of Bowling Green State University who later earned a law degree from the University of New Hampshire, Ryan kicked off his political career in Ohio’s State Senate. He launched an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2020.

Challenging him is first-time political contender and Middletown native Vance, 38, a venture capitalist known for authoring the 2016 memoir-turned-Netflix-movie “Hillbilly Elegy.”

Vance graduated from Ohio State University after serving in the U.S. Marines in Iraq and later earning his law degree from Yale Law School. He worked as an investor in Silicon Valley and returned to Ohio in 2017 to launch Narya, a venture capital firm.

Vance, Ryan on the issues

It’s the economy, stupid

Pocketbook issues are the No. 1 concern among Ohio voters, with 45% of respondents to NBC4’s mid-October poll saying the economy and inflation are top of mind in deciding how to vote. 

On the campaign trail, Ryan has pledged to cut workers in on the deal. He lambasted “devastating” trade policies, like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that have outsourced jobs from blue-collar, middle-class Ohioans, according to his campaign website.

He touted his support in Congress for the Inflation Reduction and CHIPS acts, the latter of which is poised to bring thousands of jobs to Ohio, and called for passing the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act, and raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

While Vance has joined Ryan in criticizing China’s hold on the U.S. supply chain, the self-described conservative outsider has vehemently opposed the spending choices of President Joe Biden administration, which he said have wasted trillions of dollars “that we just don’t have.”

Vance’s campaign website calls for restoring Ohio’s manufacturing base and maintaining the state as a top producer of oil and natural gas. Although Vance said he supports lowering taxes for companies that invest in the U.S., he’ll raise taxes on companies that ship could-be American jobs overseas. 

American democracy at risk

Threats to democracy took second place for the most important issues among Ohio voters, NBC4’s poll found. Both candidates touched on the problem at a Youngstown debate in mid-October, but they disagree as to what qualifies as a threat.

After the Jan. 6 Select Committee voted to subpoena former President Donald Trump for his alleged role in the insurrection, Ryan urged Trump to come clean about his suspected connections to Capitol rioters who sought to disrupt the counting of votes that certified Trump's loss to Biden.

Also falling under the umbrella of protecting U.S. democracy, in the eyes of Ryan, are rolling back the influence of money in politics, abolishing the Senate’s filibuster, and eliminating partisan gerrymandering.

Vance described the Jan. 6 investigation as nothing more than a “political hit job” -- and on Wednesday night, Vance's campaign announced that Trump will join him for a rally in Vandalia the night before Election Day. Vance has pledged to dismantle tech giants’ influence on American politics, require stricter voter ID laws, and eliminate “mass mail-in voting,” his website states.

'My body, my choice?' Or 'life begins at conception?'

Abortion is the No. 3 concern among Ohio voters, prompted largely by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June, according to NBC4’s mid-October poll. 

A majority of Ohioans who were surveyed, or 54.3%, oppose the state’s six-week abortion ban, which prohibits the procedure once fetal cardiac activity is detected and provides no exceptions for rape or incest. A Hamilton County judge, however, issued a preliminary injunction against the law on Oct. 7, indefinitely blocking its enforcement.

Ryan, while a relatively new supporter of abortion rights, voted to codify the right to abortion into federal law in May. He took to social media to chastise “political extremists” for enacting near-total abortion bans that left some Ohioans, including a 10-year-old rape victim, to travel across state lines for the procedure.

Vance has praised the downfall of Roe v. Wade, applauding the Supreme Court for protecting unborn children and prioritizing the sanctity of life, he said on his website. At an NBC4 debate in Cleveland, he hinted at his support for a 15-week national abortion ban.

Polling and endorsements

Ryan and Vance are virtually tied, according to the vast majority of independent polling conducted in Ohio. The gap between the two candidates typically falls within polls’ margins of error.

PollsterFiveThirtyEight ScoreDate ConductedVance (R)Ryan (D)Net ResultWithin margin of error?
CygnalB+Oct. 20-2448%44%Vance +4Yes (+/- 2.26%)
Marist CollegeAOct. 17-2046%45%Vance +1Yes (+/- 3.9%)
Siena CollegeAOct. 14-1946%46%Tie +0Yes (+/- 5.1%)
CygnalB+Oct. 14-1847%43%Vance +4Yes (+/- 2.58%)
LucidB-Oct. 11-1541%43%Ryan +2Yes (+/- 3.8%)
Suffolk UniversityB+Oct. 11-1547%45%Vance +2Yes (+/- 4.4%)
Emerson CollegeA-Oct. 6-746%45%Vance +1Yes (+/- 3%)
CygnalB+Oct. 6-846%44%Vance +2
Siena CollegeA Sept. 18-2243%46%Ryan +3Yes (+/- 4.4%)
Baldwin Wallace University B/C Sept. 12-1545%48%Ryan +3Yes (+/- 4.1%)
Marist CollegeASept. 12-1346%45%Vance +1Yes (+/- 3.6%)
Emerson CollegeA-Sept. 12-1344%40%Vance +4No (+/- 3.2%)
CiviqsB-Sept. 10-1348%45%Vance +3Yes (+/- 4%)
Suffolk UniversityB+Sept. 5-746%47%Ryan +1Yes (+/- 4.4%)
Echelon InsightsB/C Aug. 31-Sept. 739%45%Ryan +6 No (+/- 4.3%)
Emerson CollegeA-Aug. 15-1645%42%Vance +3Yes (+/- 3.2)
Suffolk UniversityB+May 22-2442%39%Vance +2 Yes (+/- 4.4%)
A rundown of recent polls, via polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight.

One of Vance's most influential endorsements comes from Trump, whose stamp of approval helped Vance soar past his fellow Republican candidates in the May primary. Along with the backing of Gov. Mike DeWine and other statewide Republican officials, Vance is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Right to Life, and Ohio National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Ryan has picked up support from multiple labor unions, including the Ohio AFL-CIO, Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters, and the Ohio Federation of Teachers, according to his website. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty also endorsed Ryan.

The candidates are scheduled to debate for a third time Tuesday at a town hall hosted by Fox News Channel in Columbus. For more information on the candidates, visit Vance's campaign website and Ryan's campaign website.