Ohio Democrat Senator Sherrod Brown is a popular figure in Ohio. According to Morning Consult, Brown has net positive approval rating of +15. He is a rather unique figure, as he is a popular Democrat incumbent who was just re-elected with 53.4% of the vote in 2018, despite being in a state that is showing signs of GOP-leaning. How is Brown popular in a state that voted for Trump in 2016 by over 8%?
Brown is popular because he has a rust belt appeal while appearing as a moderate. He understands blue coast states (New England & West Coast) have a certain disdain for the middle of the country.
For example, in February, HBO host Bill Maher said, “The flyover states have become the passed over states. That’s why red state voters are so pissed off. They don’t hate us, they want to be us. They want to go to the party." An odd argument since California, New York and Illinois, home to the most populated cities in America, have the highest outbound migration.
But instead of being honest about why blue coast states and flyover states aren’t fond of each other, Brown instead quips, “I also think it’s a narrative in part created by Fox News. This sounds a bit whiny, but there is clearly a partisan media on the right. There’s Fox and there’s the Wall Street Journal editorial page, which hates deficits when it’s a Democratic president and says we’ll grow out of them now.”
He is correct about the deficit argument, as many Tea Party politicians with the exception of Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Representative Justin Amash (I-MI) have been silent on the large deficit increase. But Brown is completely dishonest about the narrative part. Republicans can make the same argument about MSNBC and The New York Times editorial page. Having a straw man rebuttal isn’t the answer.
This is my problem with Brown, he is seemingly more interested in his own party than his constituents’ best interest. Now, one can argue Republican Senator Rob Portman or all politicians in general are the same way, but Portman is already called out on social media and is nowhere near as divisive as Brown.
When President Donald Trump made his speech to joint session of Congress earlier this year and announced the record-low number of unemployed people with disabilities, I was excited. As someone with a disability, I was proud to have this accomplishment recognized. Sadly, instead of cheering for this accomplishment, Brown and most fellow Democrats refused to applaud. (16:19 in this clip). I don’t care if you don’t think Trump deserves credit, or you dislike him. If former President Barack Obama said the same thing, Brown and his colleagues would have cheered, rightfully so. But because politics, Brown couldn’t applaud great developments like this and as someone with a disability, I will remember Brown put politics over progress.
Also, record-wise Brown doesn’t deserve the reputation of being a moderate.
According to FiveThirtyEight, Brown votes with Trump 26.2% of the time. In comparison, former Vice-Presidential running mate Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) votes with Trump 29.6% of the time and Democratic presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobaucher votes with Trump 26.9% of the time. Brown votes with Trump less than the running mate of Hillary Clinton and a current Democratic Presidential candidate. Doesn’t sound moderate to me.
Overall, if you like Brown because you like his views, that’s completely fair. I want Brown to succeed and I respect him as my Senator, but I just don’t believe Brown deserves as much praise as he receives in Ohio.