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Republicans’ chance of flipping critical Ohio Senate seat in 2024: Poll

Republicans in Ohio are hoping to unseat Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown next November, but a new poll found they may have an uphill battle to climb despite former President Donald Trump winning the state twice.

Political observers for years viewed Ohio as a critical battleground state roughly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. But the Buckeye State has drifted toward the GOP in recent years, backing Trump during his 2016 and 2020 elections. Still, Brown, a Democrat first elected in 2006, easily won reelection in 2018 when Democratic outrage at the Trump administration delivered a “blue wave” across the United States.

Now, Brown faces a competitive reelection campaign in a state widely expected to vote for the Republican candidate at the presidential level, meaning Democrats won’t have the same turnout advantage as in 2018. Republicans view Brown as among the most vulnerable Democratic Senators, along with Montana’s Jon Tester and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin. The Ohio Senate race will likely be one of the few elections to decide control of Congress’s upper chamber as Democrats find themselves defending seats in solidly conservative territory.

But a new USA TODAY Network/Suffolk University poll released Tuesday showed the race as being competitive—Brown leading each of the three Republicans who have announced Senate campaigns.

Republicans’ Chance of Flipping Critical Ohio Seat
Committee chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown listens during a Senate Banking nominations hearing on June 21, 2023, in Washington, D.C. A new poll of Ohio’s 2024 Senate race found Brown with a narrow lead over his potential Republican rivals.
Drew Angerer/Getty

So far, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Ohio State Senator Matt Dolan and entrepreneur Bernie Moreno have announced campaigns challenging Brown.

Newsweek reached out to the Brown, LaRose and Dolan campaigns via email and the Moreno campaign via his online contact form for comment.

The poll, which surveyed 500 likely Ohio voters from July 9 to 12, found that LaRose would pose the biggest threat to the incumbent Democrat.

  • LaRose trailed Brown by only 0.4 percentage points as voters were nearly split on who they would back.
  • 45 percent of respondents said they planned to vote to reelect Brown,
  • 44.6 percent said they’d support LaRose, and
  • 9.8 percent said they remain undecided.

Brown held a more comfortable lead over his other potential rivals.

In a head-to-head against Dolan, who ran in the 2020 GOP Senate primary but lost to now-Senator J.D. Vance:

  • Brown held a lead of 3.4 percentage points,
  • Brown held 46.2 percent of likely voters to Dolan’s 42.8 percent.
  • The poll found 10.2 percent of voters said they were undecided.

Brown led Moreno by 7.2 points, winning support from 48.4 percent of likely voters to the Republican’s 41.2 percent, the poll found. Meanwhile, 9.8 percent said they were undecided as to who they would support.

While the poll found Brown narrowly leading his Republican rivals, it also found that Trump would again win an election over President Joe Biden in a potential rematch. Trump received support from 43.6 percent of respondents, while 38.2 percent said they would vote for Biden.

The race appeared closer if Ron DeSantis wins the GOP nomination, as he only leads Biden by two points, winning 39 percent of support to Biden’s 37 percent, according to the poll.

An East Carolina University poll conducted among 805 registered voters from June 21 to 24, 2023, found LaRose with a narrow edge in the primary, winning support from 17 percent of respondents. Fourteen percent of respondents said they’d back Dolan, while seven percent said they planned to vote for Moreno.

Brown, a former Congressman, was first elected to the Senate in 2006, winning by 12 percentage points against incumbent Republican Mike DeWine, who now serves as governor. He won reelection by five points in 2012 and nearly seven points in 2018.

Former President Barack Obama won Ohio during the 2008 and 2012 presidential races, but it zoomed rightward in 2016 when Trump won by roughly eight points. He similarly won by eight points in 2020 despite doing worse nationwide.


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