Home Election 2018 Why Brown is leading Renacci in the polls

Why Brown is leading Renacci in the polls

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In the midst of a contentious midterm election with many tossups, Sen. Sherrod Brown has dominated every poll. Why is this?

Sen. Sherrod Brown is leading the race against opponent Rep. Jim Renacci, despite Ohio hosting one of the most contested gubernatorial races in the country.

FiveThirtyEight, a website that creates models based on poll aggregation data, gives Brown a 96.8 to 98.2 percent of winning. Other expert predictions rated the race as likely or solid Democrat, and Brown has led every poll by anywhere from 3 to 19 points over Renacci.

However, in the gubernatorial race, FiveThirtyEight only gives Richard Cordray a 58.9 to a 66.2 percent chance of beating Mike DeWine. Different polls have put different candidates ahead, and nearly every expert prediction has rated this race as a toss-up.

It should be no surprise that the gubernatorial race is competitive in a swing state like Ohio. Although the state voted favorably for Trump in 2016, both parties can — and have — won elections in Ohio. The unusual part is how uncompetitive the senatorial race is.

One reason behind this discrepancy is the incumbency advantage. The FiveThirtyEight model shifts the margin 4.8 points toward Brown because of his incumbency advantage. According to NPR, incumbents have an advantage because of name recognition.

Renacci was not a well-known public figure outside of his district before this election cycle, so he and his campaign had to strive to make Renacci a well-known statewide figure, according to the Dayton Daily News. Brown was already a senator and didn’t have to do this.

Incumbents can use name-recognition to raise campaign contributions as well. According to Open Secrets, incumbents usually raise more money than their challengers; this funding discrepancy hurts the challengers. It follows that, according to the Federal Elections Commission in the last year, Brown raised more than double compared to Renacci.

The FiveThirtyEight senate model shifts the margin of victory to Brown by 7.3 points because of his fundraising lead, which could be due to incumbency.

Brown’s lead is by no means unusual. For example, Sen. Rob Portman was able to win re-election by more than 20 points in 2016 even though he was running against former Gov. Ted Strickland. It is possible that Brown will be able to pull off a similar margin.

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