Brown is facing reelection in Ohio, a state with an increasingly Republican-friendly electorate, next November. The race is viewed as a must-win for Democrats, who need to win critical races in conservative-leaning states next year to maintain their narrow Senate majority. Democratic incumbents in Ohio, Montana and West Virginia are viewed as the most vulnerable, as former President Donald Trump carried each of those states in 2020.
Brown, first elected to the Senate in 2006, will face Ohio votes for the first time since 2018 when a “blue wave” carried Democrats to victory in Republican areas across the country. Brown won by just under 7 points.
But new polling numbers released Tuesday suggest that Brown could be in for a tight reelection race next November. An Emerson College poll found two of his most likely challengers leading him, though many voters remained undecided and the race remains close.
The poll, which surveyed 438 registered voters, found State Senator Matt Dolan with the strongest lead over Brown, leading by two percentage points. Secretary of State Frank LaRose led by one point, according to the poll. Polls have shown LaRose with a consistent lead over his opponents, though the Emerson poll did not include primary numbers.
Meanwhile, Brown maintained a 2-point lead over Bernie Moreno, a former Senate candidate and ally to former President Donald Trump.
Notably, the poll found a significant number of voters remained undecided as to who they plan to vote for. In the matchup between Brown and LaRose, 23 percent of voters remained undecided, meaning Brown could still win those voters. The poll had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.
Other surveys have found stronger numbers for Brown. A USA TODAY Network/Suffolk University poll in July found Brown leading LaRose by 0.4 percentage points, Dolan by 3.4 percentage points and Moreno by 7.2 percentage points.
The Cook Political Report, an organization that tracks elections across the U.S., rates the race as a “toss-up,” meaning that either party has a chance at winning.
Newsweek reached out to Brown’s campaign for comment via email
Should Brown lose reelection, Democrats would need to hold their seats in Montana and West Virginia, both more reliably Republican states than Ohio, which was won by former President Barrack Obama twice, or flip a GOP-held state. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is viewed as the most vulnerable Republican in the state that has drifted toward Democrats in recent years, but he is still seen as favored, polls show.
Meanwhile, Democrats are also aiming to flip Arizona’s seat currently held by Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat-turned-Independent. Sinema has not announced whether she plans to run for reelection, but polls generally show Democrat Ruben Gallego, expected to be the nominee, with an edge in a three-way race against Sinema and a Republican.