DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — There are 34 U.S. Senate seats up for grabs in November, with a few considered “battleground” elections which could determine control of the Senate.

One of those is in Ohio, where polling suggests it’s up for grabs.

Dr. Mark Caleb Smith, the Director of Political Studies at Cedarville University, spoke with 2 NEWS to break down why this is a razor-thin margin and what could make the winning difference.

“I think if you just take away the personalities and take away, sort of, all the variables, we’d expect this race to be pretty comfortable for the Republican nominee,” Dr. Smith said.

Instead, polls suggest Ohio’s U.S. Senate race is a dead heat, just 8-tenths of a percent separating J.D. Vance and Tim Ryan in the most recent Emerson College / The Hill poll, making this statistically dead heat.

Smith said some republicans are not buying J.D. Vance just yet.

“If you look at his polling numbers versus DeWine’s polling numbers, there’s a suggestion there that there’s a big chunk of people willing to vote for DeWine who are a little hesitant about J.D. Vance.”

Smith attributes that hesitancy to Vance’s political inexperience and complicated image and credits Ryan for taking advantage of that.

“He’s connecting Vance to January 6th. He’s connecting Vance to people who are denying the election results from 2020. He’s connecting him to people like Marjorie Taylor Greene and others, so I think that’s a pretty effective argument, even though Ohio is certainly trending red, Ohio has a reputation for being a pretty moderate, sober state.”

Smith said there is still some residue of what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, and Vance’s embrace of that complicates his relationship with at least some Republicans.

This election could come down to the 250 thousand Republican voters who sided with Matt Dolan in the primary. A conservative segment who are not election denialists and according to Smith, are looking for a candidate who is comfortable accepting the 2020 election results.

“Ideologically, Ryan is pretty far from them, but in terms of stability, that could be the kind of message that’s going to resonate.”

Smith said Vance, however, is scoring points with the economy, connecting Ryan to record inflation, highlighting his voting record in lockstep with Nancy Pelosi.

“I think so for sure. Anytime a Republican can connect a Democratic candidate with Nancy Pelosi throughout most of the country, it’s probably successful,” Smith said.

With little time before election day, and little space separating the two candidates, Ohioans wonder what could decide this race, and with it, possibly who controls the senate.

“I think the economy is kind of set right now, and that’s going to affect the last month of this campaign, so bad news for the Democrats. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible for something to happen, but right now, the economy is driving the bus.”

One thing is nearly unanimous across party lines, which is voter exhaustion.

Smith said the races are already long, and all the strife and dramatic storylines of the last 6-8 years have amplified the general exhaustion.