COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Incumbent and Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown is slightly favored over every Republican challenger to his seat in a new poll.
The poll of 1,000 registered voters, conducted Saturday through Monday and released Thursday, suggests Brown leads the pack of candidates vying for the U.S. Senate in 2024. Its results also suggest that the candidates have to overcome large swaths of undecided voters – and those who still don’t know who the challengers are – to win both the primary and the race against Brown.
Emerson College conducted the poll online, by landline and over email. The poll was sponsored by Nexstar Media, the parent company of NBC4, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
In hypothetical matchups with state Sen. Matt Dolan, Secretary of State Frank LaRose and businessman Bernie Moreno, only Brown’s win over Moreno falls outside the margin of error, with 42% favoring Brown and less than 32% favoring Moreno. It mirrors other polls that found Moreno has the greatest gap to overcome if selected as the Republican nominee.
Brown’s 40.5% vs. Dolan’s 37.7% is the closest matchup and within the margin of error. Similarly, Brown inched ahead of LaRose 41% to 35.6%. Sizeable numbers of voters in the poll remain undecided in all three hypothetical contests, with nearly a fifth of voters undecided between Brown and Moreno.
But in a primary race among LaRose, Dolan and Moreno, about a third of voters said they would prefer another candidate altogether. Another quarter of voters were undecided.
Despite the survey respondents being 39% Republican, 31% Democrat and 30% independent voters, nearly half of those polled viewed Brown favorably. Less than 7% of voters had not heard of Brown, who has represented Ohio in the U.S. Senate since 2007.
The poll, which also asked voters about the presidential election, suggests that some Republican voters may support Brown while also voting for Donald Trump.
“While Trump outperforms his 2020 vote in Ohio, Brown still leads the Republican candidates, though within the poll’s margin of error,” Spencer Kimball, executive director of Emerson College Polling, said in a news release. “About 1 in 10 2024 Trump voters plan to split their ticket and vote for Brown in the Senate matchup against any of the three leading Republican candidates.”
LaRose appears to be the most disliked among the Republican candidates, with nearly 29% of respondents having somewhat or very unfavorable opinions, compared to 24% for Moreno and just over 21% for Dolan. But LaRose, the state’s chief election official who prominently campaigned against the winning abortion amendment in November, is the best-known of the challengers.
A little more than 12% of those polled had not heard of LaRose, compared to more than 20% for Dolan and 22% for Moreno. Other polls have found similar, if not greater, rates of unfamiliarity with the candidates looking to unseat Brown.
The respondents in the Emerson/Nexstar Media poll were less decided in their positions than a similar Suffolk University/USA Today poll conducted in July. Overall, however, polling has remained relatively consistent in showing that Brown has maintained a slight lead in the race.