The Beltway can't stop talking about him. Voters barely know him.

But in nearly two dozen conversations with politics watchers and regular voters here before and after Vance officially announced his candidacy, a few did not recognize Vance’s name at all. Most voters, with some prompting, possessed a sometimes-vague knowledge (or loathing) of him as someone they had seen on the news, or whose life story had been made into a movie on Netflix. Almost none knew much about him as a politician, and those Republicans that did had learned about him recently from Fox News or directly from his campaign. And to observers here, that makes his chances at a Senate seat look very different than they might look from Washington.

“I think this is a candidacy that looks really good to the Twitter crowd, and that looks good to folks who aren’t in Ohio and are thinking about the glide path that J.D. Vance has been on,” said David Niven, a political science professor at the University of Cincinnati and former speechwriter for Democratic governor Ted Strickland. “But I don’t know that rank-and-file Ohio Republicans have given him a moment’s thought.”…

Indeed, after Vance’s announcement, the attacks buzzed in like a swarm of particularly pissed-off hornets. On the day of Vance’s speech, Bill Seitz, the Republican majority leader of the Ohio House, published an editorial in the Cincinnati Enquirer urging readers “Don’t buy what J.D. Vance is selling,” and before the Vance event kicked off, a woman in the crowd showed me text blasts she’d received from an anonymous number, which had gone out to Republicans across the state: “In his own words: ‘I feel out of place in Ohio’; ‘Trump supporters are racist’; ‘Trump is an idiot’; We can’t let this Never-Trumper get anywhere near the US Senate.”

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