Ohio Democrat Senator Appears Vulnerable in 2024

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The 2024 Senate map offers a promising chance for the Republican Party to reclaim control of the U.S. Senate. Democrats have to defend twenty seats next November, while Republicans have to defend just eleven. It’s a more favorable map for the GOP than in 2022, raising the potential for the party to secure a comfortable margin in the Senate.

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It’s been clear for some time that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) is in trouble, and new polling shows Republican candidate Jim Justice with a comfortable lead. Polls also show that Sen. John Tester (D-Mont.) is also extremely vulnerable. Another incumbent Democrat who finds himself in a competitive race is Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Ohio may be a battleground state, but it’s a state that’s been getting redder in recent cycles. The Trump-backed Republican J.D. Vance won in 2022 by a comfortable six-point margin, which was a clear warning sign for Brown, who was first elected to the Senate in 2006. A recent poll from Emerson College shows Republican Senate candidates either holding a slight lead over Brown or trailing by only a small margin. State Sen. Matt Dolan garners 38% support compared to Brown’s 36%, while Secretary of State Frank LaRose leads with 39% to Brown’s 38%. The only Republican Brown outperforms is businessman Bernie Moreno, with Brown securing 35% to Moreno’s 33%, with nearly a third of voters undecided.

Related: A Divided GOP Won’t Win in 2024

“With just over a year until the 2024 Ohio U.S. Senate election, many established Democratic demographics, like voters under 30 and Black voters, are demonstrating a lower level of enthusiasm toward Brown,” Polling Director Spencer Kimball observed. “It is not that these voters are supporting the Republican candidate over Brown, they are choosing to select someone else or note they are undecided at this point. About a third of voters under 30 indicate they would vote for someone else or are undecided in a Brown/Dolan matchup; 38% of Black voters indicate the same.”

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“An encouraging sign for Brown is that he leads Republicans by several points among independents [sic] voters,” Kimball added.

While that certainly helps, running for reelection during a presidential election year may render that advantage moot. Joe Biden’s high disapproval ratings in the state are likely to hurt Brown’s reelection chances, especially since Trump’s advantage over Joe Biden in Ohio is 12 points — which is a larger lead than the roughly eight-point lead he had in both 2020 and 2016, which bodes well for Brown’s eventual Republican opponent. No matter how you slice it, Brown needs to win over Trump supporters to have a shot at getting reelected.

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