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** Watch coverage of the candidates’ Monday, Nov. 7, campaign stops in the player above.

(WJW) — Ohio voters have elected JD Vance as their next Ohio senator.

Fox News called the race for Vance just before 11:15 p.m.

“We’re celebrating tonight, but the most challenging part is far from over,” reads an email from Vance’s campaign. “We’ve got a major obstacle ahead — saving our democracy from the socialist agenda that’s tearing us apart.

“The day I’m sworn in is the day we stand up to Communist China, secure our Southern Border, and look out for the people left behind. It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to happen in one day, and it’s not going to happen if we don’t work together.”

The polls closed at 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. According to the latest unofficial results from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, as of 11:50 p.m., with nearly all precincts statewide reporting, Vance held a 7-point lead over Ryan:

Read on for background about the candidates, their first and only statewide debate on FOX 8 and pre-election polling results for Ohio’s U.S. Senate race.

The candidates

Tim Ryan, 49, is a 10-term Democratic U.S. House representative who lives in Howland Township. He was first elected to Congress in 2002, according to his House website.

Ryan currently serves on the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense spending and is co-chair of the House Manufacturing Caucus, which promotes industrial policy. He’s backed recent major legislation including the deficit-reducing Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS Act to spur domestic production of semiconductors.

Ryan has campaigned as a moderate who wants to transcend party lines and rebuild the American middle class. During the candidates’ live statewide debate on FOX 8, painted his opponent Vance as an out-of-touch capitalist who’s more in-touch with far-right “extremism.”

Watch Ryan’s concession speech in the player below:

J.D. Vance, 38, is a venture capitalist and author of the best-selling memoir “Hillbilly Elegy,” according to his campaign website. Vance was born and raised in Middletown, but moved out-of-state to invest in Silicon Valley. He returned to Ohio in 2017 and started a business.

Vance was endorsed in the May Republican primary by former President Donald Trump, a Republican who won Ohio by an 8% margin in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. The nod helped him rise above a crowded field of candidates.

Vance, whose book chronicled the decline of his hometown and a childhood plagued by parental abandonment and drug abuse, on the Oct. 17 debate stage called out Ryan’s inaction on economic policy, border security and drug trafficking over his congressional tenure. In attack ads, Vance’s campaign accuses Ryan of “toeing the party line,” in step with President Joe Biden.

The issues and debate

Each candidate last month made his case live on-stage in the FOX 8 studios for the race’s first and only statewide debate.

The candidates sparred on the issues most top-of-mind to voters, according to recent polling, the first being the economy and record-high inflation.

“I believe we’ve gone in a fundamentally bad direction over the last couple of years,” Vance said. “I believe people deserve to go to the grocery store without breaking the bank.”

Ryan said he feels “everybody is to blame” for the inflation crisis, and said proposes a “significant tax cut” for working-class people to line their pockets.

When asked if he wanted President Biden to run again, Ryan said: “No, I’ve been very clear. I’d like to see a generational change. … We need a new generation of leadership.”

Access to abortion was the second-most important issue for voters, according to polls.

Ryan said he supports reestablishing Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court precedent that made access to abortion a constitutional right, said he thinks the federal government should codify abortion access.

Vance, when asked if he supported a Republican bill in the Senate to ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks, said he supports minimum national standards.

“Ohio’s going to want to have different abortion laws than California, than Texas. I think Ohio should have that right,” he said.

Below are the candidates’ closing statements from the Oct. 17 debate:

The polls

The race for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by retiring Republican Senator Rob Portman of Cincinnati has stayed competitive, with various pre-election polls giving only slight advantage to either candidate.

Ohio voters who participated in a September poll conducted by Emerson College, FOX 8 and The Hill gave a 4% edge to Vance. Vance earned 44% of the vote to Ryan’s 40%, which was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, The Hill reported. More recent polling showed the Republican has widened that lead, with 51% of voters supporting Vance, 43% supporting Ryan.

“Independent voters favor JD Vance by a two-point margin, 51% of which name the economy as their most important issue. Additionally, a stark gender divide exists on the Senate ballot, reflective of other Senate polling this cycle. Men break for Vance by 19 points, whereas women break for Ryan by eight points,” Spencer Kimball, Executive Director of Emerson College Polling, said in September.

In a FOX 8 poll of more than 5,000 viewers after the candidates debated in Cleveland, 58.7% of viewers said Vance won the debate, while 41.3% said Ryan won.

One area where Ryan has dominated is funding. Ryan’s campaign outraised Vance’s nearly 4 to 1 as of the last campaign finance deadline before the election, bringing in $48.1 million to Vance’s $12.7 million, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Of Ryan’s war chest, $45.3 million had been spent, records show. Vance, by comparison, spent $9.8 million.