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Trump's nod elevates Vance but that wasn't the only story from Tuesday's primaries

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Republican Senate Candidate JD Vance Holds Primary Night Event
JD Vance speaks during a primary election night event in Cincinnati on May 3, 2022.Luke Sharrett / Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — If it’s Wednesday ... J.D. Vance wins the Ohio Senate GOP primary and will face Democrat Tim Ryan in the fall. ... It will be GOP Gov. Mike DeWine against Democrat Nan Whaley in the Ohio governor's race. ... Rep. Shontel Brown, D-Ohio, beats Nina Turner again in Ohio-11. ... President Biden greets Team USA Olympians at the White House and then makes remarks on the economy. ... The DGA books $75 million in early ad reservations. ... And May the 4th be with you.

But first: Two things can be true at the same time.

One, former President Donald Trump’s endorsement catapulted J.D. Vance to victory in last night’s Republican primary in Ohio’s open Senate race, taking him from middle of the pack in polling to first place.

Two, nearly 68 percent of Ohio Republican primary voters went with someone else other than Vance in the crowded field. Here are the results with 99 percent of the vote in:

  • Vance: 32.2 percent
  • Josh Mandel: 23.8 percent
  • Matt Dolan: 23.4 percent
  • Mike Gibbons: 11.7 percent
  • Jane Timken: 5.9 percent
  • Others: 3.0 percent

And that’s maybe the best way to view the power of Trump’s endorsement, especially with upcoming GOP contests in Nebraska, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Georgia where the former president has skin in the game.

Trump’s backing can take you to the top in a crowded field of all (or mostly all) pro-Trump candidates.

But it doesn’t get you all the votes. Far from it.

Another thing: The non-Trumpy Dolan overperformed in the urban Ohio counties of Cuyahoga (Cleveland), Franklin (Columbus) and Hamilton (Cincinnati), while Vance overperformed in the rural and Appalachian counties, confirming Trump’s geographical — and educational — pull in our politics.

And a final observation about last night: Democratic turnout is down from 2018, while GOP turnout is up.

Just look at these numbers from the Democratic and GOP OH-GOV primaries:

2022

  • Ohio Governor GOP primary total turnout (99% in): 1,070,906
  • Ohio Governor Democratic primary total turnout (91%): 502,869

2018

  • Ohio Governor GOP primary turnout: 827,041
  • Ohio Governor Democratic turnout: 680,001

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The number of the day is … $75 million

That’s how much the Democratic Governors Association is booking in its first wave of television reservations across eight states, NBC News has learned. The group is reserving:

  • $23 million in Michigan
  • $21 million in Wisconsin
  • $10 million in Nevada
  • $5 million in Colorado
  • $5 million in Maine
  • $4.5 million in Minnesota
  • $4 million in Kansas (working with allied groups)
  • $2.5 million in New Mexico

Michigan and Wisconsin, the two states drawing more than $20 million in reservations, are two states where Govs. Gretchen Whitmer and Tony Evers are the Democratic Party’s only bulwark against GOP-led legislatures. (That’s the case for Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, too.)

This is just the start — the DGA, the RGA (which released their first round of TV reservations in March) and other groups will spend millions more as Election Day draws closer. But these early reservations demonstrate how the Democrats are spreading money around to help key incumbents, especially as the specter of the Supreme Court axing Roe vs. Wade shines the spotlight on state laws and how governors would react to a decision similar to the draft leaked this week.

“The DGA is all in to protect our incumbents. As the fight to defend our democracy and fundamental rights shifts to the states, ensuring Democratic governors are in office is more vital than ever,” DGA Executive Director Noam Lee told NBC News in a statement. “Our track record of smart, strategic investments has helped us elect Democratic governors across the country, and it is how we are going to win this fall."

Read more on the MTP Blog.

Other numbers you need to know today:

$34.7 million: That’s at least how much four Republicans (Mike Gibbons, Jane Timken, Matt Dolan and Bernie Moreno) who lost to J.D. Vance gave their campaigns from their own pockets (in loans and contributions) through April 13, according to the most recent spending disclosures. Josh Mandel, who finished second, didn’t spend any of his own money by mid-April.

$1.54 million: How much former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley spent on ads in the Ohio gubernatorial primary, which Whaley won despite her opponent, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, spending $1.85 million on ads, per AdImpact.

6: The number of times former Indiana GOP Rep. Mike Sodrel has run for Congress, winning once in 2004 and losing again last night.

27,298: The number of votes cast on the first day of early voting in Georgia, roughly three times more than the votes cast on the first day of early voting in 2018.

$4,000: How much Amazon pledged to pay in travel expenses for staff who travel for an abortion or other medical treatments.

19: The number of states where legislators are working to offer “legal refuge” to transgender youth and their families.

Midterm roundup: The results are in

Marquee races like the Ohio senatorial and gubernatorial races get top billing, but there were a handful of other notable results from last night as well. Here’s a look at the results in some of the top races as of 7:00 a.m. ET Wednesday morning (a candidate’s name is italicized if they are the NBC News Decision Desk’s projected winner:

Ohio Senate (GOP): J.D. Vance 32 percent; Josh Mandel 24 percent; Matt Dolan 23 percent; Mike Gibbons 12 percent.

Ohio Governor (GOP): Mike DeWine 48 percent; Jim Renacci 28 percent; Joe Blystone 22 percent.

Ohio Governor (Democrat): Nan Whaley 65 percent; John Cranley 35 percent.

Ohio-07 (GOP): Max Miller 72 percent; Jonah Schulz 14 percent; Charlie Gaddis 9 percent.

Ohio-09 (GOP): J.R. Majewski 36 percent; Craig Riedel 30 percent; Theresa Gavarone 29 percent. (The eventual winner will face Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur.)

Ohio-11 (Democrat): Shontel Brown 66 percent; Nina Turner 34 percent.

Ohio-13 (GOP): Madison Gesiotto Gilbert 29 percent; Greg Wheeler 23 percent; Janet Folger Porter 17 percent; Shay Hawkins 11 percent. (Gesiotto Gilbert will face Democrat Emilia Sykes in November, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.)

Indiana-01 (GOP): Jennifer-Ruth Green 47 percent; Blake Milo 23 percent; Mark Leyva 13 percent. (Green will face Democratic Rep. Frank Mrvan in the fall.)

Indiana-09 (GOP): Erin Houchin 37 percent; Mike Sodrel 26 percent; Stu Barnes-Israel 21 percent.

Elsewhere on the campaign trail:

Ohio Senate: Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan wasted no time ramping up his general election campaign, launching a new digital ad going after Vance. Ryan’s campaign also reserved nearly $3.2 million worth of airtime from May through October, per AdImpact.

Missouri Senate: Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine, heiress to the Anheuser-Busch fortune, made her first TV buy tracked by AdImpact, reserving $55,000 on cable.

Alabama Governor: Shortly after the leak of the draft Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, Republican Lindy Blanchard is up with a new ad attacking Gov. Kay Ivey from the right on abortion.

Idaho Governor: The RGA is jumping in to help GOP Gov. Brad Little fend off Trump-backed challenger Janice McGeachin, the lieutenant governor, in the May 17 primary, spending $21,000 on the airwaves.

New York Governor: Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul named Rep. Antonio Delgado as the new lieutenant governor and her new running mate, also likely opening up a competitive House seat in Upstate New York.

Ad watch

Baker up on the air: Former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is out with his first ad in the race for the Democratic nomination for Maryland’s governor. He joins former U.S. Education Secretary John King, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, former DNC chair and U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and former nonprofit executive Wes Moore on the airwaves.

The ad highlights Baker’s plan to curb crime in Baltimore. “As governor, I'll declare a crisis, move my office to Baltimore and fight like hell to fix it,” Baker says in the ad.

He adds, “Tackle the root causes of crime like poverty, fix vacant buildings and hire more police who are part of the community. We're gonna stop the slaughter of young black men and turn Baltimore around.”

The race for the Democratic nomination is currently wide open, and there are 10 candidates competing.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Former Transportation Sec. Norman Mineta, the first Japanese American member of the presidential Cabinet, died Tuesday at the age of 90.

The Federal Reserve is meeting Wednesday and could raise rates again as it looks to curb inflation.

The European Union has proposed banning Russian oil by the end of the year as a way to squeeze Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine.

Democrats are seeking to capitalize on the leaked Supreme Court draft ruling on abortion, NBC’s Natasha Korecki, Sahil Kapur and Peter Nicholas report.

CORRECTION: (May 4, 2022, 2:20 p.m.) A previous version of this article misstated the primary ad spending for former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. Whaley’s campaign spent $1.54 million, not $155,000.