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Friday, October 07, 2005

OH-Sen: Who is Sherrod Brown?

Posted by DavidNYC

UPDATE: Maybe it is time for me to eat crow and deliver that apology. Check this out. An internal DSCC poll apparently gave Sherrod Brown 77% name recognition in July. As I say in comments, I'd be curious to know what Hackett's numbers were in that Zogby Interactive poll (even though I have publicly questioned those polls), since I don't know of any other poll which would offer a basis for comparison.

On the flipside, the Ohio poll here does show that 59% of people have heard of Brown, even if a large chunk don't know enough to form an opinion. In terms of pure name recognition, well, that's still quite a spread from 77%, but it's not monstrous. I still think I goofed pretty bad on this one, and I apologize to Sherrod Brown, and to the people who (rightly) took me to task for relying on old data. I know that the damage has been done, and I cannot put the cat back in the bag with a mere apology, but I do offer it sincerely.

[Original post begins here.]

If you were to ask that question to Ohioans, I'd wager that quite a few wouldn't really be able to answer. Why do I say this? Because the University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll asked about it a few years ago (sorry, no link - from a subscription-only database):

Would you say that you have a favorable opinion of Sherrod Brown, an unfavorable opinion, that you know too little about him to say, or that you have not heard of him?

Favorable: 21%
Unfavorable: 5%
Know too little: 32%
Not heard: 41%

N=941 Ohio registered voters

This poll is from 2001, but remember, Sherrod Brown had held his current office for almost a decade by that point, and had also previously held statewide office for eight years. So even by that point, fully 40% of Ohioans had never heard of him, and another third didn't know enough about him to form an opinion. These might be good numbers for your typical Congressman, but they certainly aren't great, and in terms of state-wide recognition, they strike me as pretty low.

The reason I make this observation because some people who support Brown haved touted his name recognition as one of his strengths. But, in fact, Brown doesn't appear to be all that well-known.

I can anticipate some of the objections to this poll, the main one being that it's four years old. I used it because it was actually the most recent (in fact the only) one I could find. But I also don't think things have changed all that much in the interim. Yes, Brown has recently enhanced his profile with Grow Ohio; yes, he's probably gotten a bit more visibility of late because the Ohio senate race has gotten some coverage lately; and yes, I also don't doubt that he's done his best to promote himself these past few years.

And if someone unearths a more recent poll which contradicts this one, I will gladly eat crow and apologize to Sherrod Brown. I did not post this poll willy-nilly in an attempt to ding Brown - it was a considered decision, and as I say above, I don't believe that these numbers are likely to have shifted a great deal in the past four years.

In any event, it looks like Sherrod Brown is not a Hillary Clinton-type (or even Eliot Spitzer-type) candidate - that is, someone who starts off the race with very high name recognition. Not at all, in fact.

I know that Brown has other merits, and I know that name recognition is only one piece of the puzzle. A lot of people more knowledgeable than I have said that Brown has a tremendous organization in Ohio, and has connections throughout the political strata. I haven't yet seen proof of these claims, but I will also grant that this poll does nothing to undermine them, either. It is limited to one question and one question only - namely, how well-known is Sherrod Brown amongst the general public?

And until someone demonstrates otherwise, I'm going to conclude that the answer is "Not very." At the very least, I'd have a hard time believing that Brown has any advantage in this category over Paul Hackett. I am not saying Paul Hackett is more well-known (though he might be) - just that I doubt he is materially less well-known than Brown.

Again I say, this poll does not speak to any other issues. I stress this point because I don't want this post to be misunderstood. I am making a very narrow argument here: On name recognition alone, I don't think Brown supporters can make any kind of strong claims that their guy has the edge. But again, I welcome any refutation of this argument.

Now, if you've read this far, you've rightly concluded that I'm a Hackett supporter.

But I will say one thing to my fellow travelers: I think it's time we stop complaining about Sherry Brown's belated decision to run. As I've written elsewhere, I'm not happy about it, and I wish he had made a different choice. But this is the hand we've been dealt, and I don't think that whining about it (which is what it sounds like to most people) will help us win the primary. (Remember how most of us - myself included - sneered when Joe Lieberman sobbed about Al Gore's alleged disloyalty when the latter endorsed Howard Dean?)

Paul Hackett can definitely win this primary, and if he does, it's because he's the better candidate, ran a better race, fought a better fight, and had a better-mobilized corps of supporters. It's our job to deliver on that last point. Most of us have been through this drill before, and we know what we've got to do - whether it's to volunteer, make phone calls, help spread the word, donate money. But I can assure that what will not help Paul Hackett win is complaining. So I say we do our best to put that aside, roll up our sleeves and get to work. Let's keep it clean, and let's do this thing!

Posted at 03:17 PM in Ohio | Technorati

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77% name ID. I'm not sayin, I'm just saying. I emailed you on it, but didn't want to wait with this just sitting out there.


Posted by: Tim Tagaris [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 7, 2005 03:41 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Well, looks like I goofed pretty bad.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 7, 2005 03:59 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Well, we'd need Hackett's numbers to know that for sure.

Posted by: Kagro X [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 7, 2005 04:14 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Just a thought from a former Ohioan and political activist.

Brown is a big name in Ohio politics, or at least it was until recently. If the poll subjects sensed or knew that the names were politicians, they may have answered that they recognized Sherrod Brown's name because the last name was so common among politicians. I'd be curious to know if the poll subjects correctly identified him as a congressperson from northern Ohio.

Another note on Ohio. The state splits north/south along the divide between rivers that flow into Lake Erie and those that flow into the Ohio. People in Cleveland, for instance, would be likely to know the four area congresspersons and maybe Tim Ryan and Mary Kaptur. They would very unlikely to know any of the downstate congresspersons. And vice versa.

Unless they have an almost national position, or unless they are complete freaks like Traficant was, congresspersons are rarely known outside of the districts and the immediate vicinity.

I'd really like to know if it is true that Brown told Hackett he wasn't running, then changed his mind weeks later. There is something wrong with that.

I'm not dissing Brown, necessarily, but just commenting on the completely useless state party. If there were any question as to who was running, a decent state chair would have had a sit down with both, maybe even at the same time, and hammered out an agreement.

Brown and Hackett each have strengths that could serve the Democrats well. Having them face off, even in this was and at this early stage, just promotes the image of disorganization and ineffectiveness. It also feeds the north/south animosity that characterizes the Ohio Democratic Party.

Posted by: James E. Powell [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 8, 2005 03:29 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I have to comment that I am from Northeast Ohio and something of a political junkie and I barely knew who Brown was until last year. I was most familiar with my own congressperson of course (Stephanie Tubbs Jones) and Dennis Kucinich, of course, but was much more familiar with Steven La Tourette than Brown.

I became familiar with him through his recent book on trade and I have heard him do a presentation on the book. He strikes me as careful, earnest, progressive, slightly dull and a bit over the heads of most people who are not well-educated and deeply interested in his issues. It's only my personal impression but it seems to me like he'd have a hard time connecting with voters outside of a core of committed progressive Democrats. The Republicans win because the have a simple, direct, emotional message although next year in Ohio, I'm not quite sure what it will be. "We're the best party to clean up corruption because we're so familiar with it?" Well, if Blackwell heads the ticket, it'll probably be gay-bashing again....sigh.

77% name recognition strikes me as highly wacky. I wonder if people just THINK they know his name because they know a somebody Brown. I'll bet even Kucinich, who has to be the best-known congressman from Ohio due to his presidential run, doesn't have name recognition THAT high.

Posted by: Ansatasia P [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 8, 2005 10:17 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I think if you are going to use the DSCC poll you should also post the other numbers that came with it - the ones showing Brown getting thumped by DeWine
Mike DeWine (R) 42
Sherrod Brown (D) 36

Even this poll shows with that number that even if folks have heard his name mentioned somewhere, they have no clue who the hell he is.

Asking someone if they have heard of the show "Desperate Housewives" and "do you like Desperate Housewives" is two different things.

the Brown folks here are trying to box you into thinking two different questions are really the same. they are not.

You also have to weigh the source of this 77% - our own guys trying to pump him up to run.

I suspect we will see polls fairly soon, and then things will be much clearer.
My money will be on Hackett leading DeWine and Brown, and Brown Trailing DeWine

Posted by: Pounder [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 8, 2005 12:46 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Ok, seriously... lets stop talking about old and incomplete polling. The fact of the matter is that Paul Hackett was a great candidate in OH-02, but that does not translate automatically into a Senate race. Brown has been a CHAMPION for Dems in Ohio and nationally for years. Lets build a strong statewide ticket and put them both on the ballot... Hackett has other options like AG or the Congressional again... Lets put ego aside and do the right thing for Ohio!

Posted by: turnohioblue [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 8, 2005 09:50 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

turnohioblue, I think you fundementally fail to realize exactly what it takes for a Democrat to be successful Statewide. Butler, Clermont, and Warren Counties are were Democrats get killed(look up the result and you'll see they account for the GOP margin of victory alone). Guess what? Most of this area is in OH-02 and Hackett can cut into this disparity, unfortunately Sherrod Cannot. I am a liberal NE Ohio Democrat that knows Sherrod, but math is not subjective.

Posted by: OH-09Dem [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 8, 2005 10:02 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

OH-09, you might also be overlooking an important piece of info... in the special election where Hackett gained "big magrins" in the rural areas... those margins did not exceed the normal number of people that voted for Kerry... A great turnout operation can explain the Hackett numbers of actual voters. Before we give such weight to his victories we should think about that. He turned out hard Democrats--- people who would bote Democrat no matter what-- but not normally in a special election. Kudos to his field team. However, in a general election wtih the normal Republican mahcine we can not assume that the same thing will happen. I hope Dems come to the polls, but it will not look the same as it did this August. WE NEED to be HONEST with ourselves...

Posted by: turnohioblue [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2005 01:24 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

that observation is true, but iit s also one gleaned from the election results without a true understanding of the dynamic of Ohio politics on the ground.

Posted by: OH-09Dem [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2005 10:53 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Can I just say how much better the debate has been since the flames were doused?

Still strong disagreement here, but the tenor has improved tremendously.

Posted by: Kagro X [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2005 11:46 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The rumor mill now contends that Chuck Schumer is trying to talk Hackett out of the race. I don't know if this is true, but if it is, I think we can probably write off our party's chances of doing anything right next year. Regardless of whether they believe Hackett is ready for primetime under the spotlight of a Senate race, the Dem leadership choosing to squash this desperately-needed rising star under their bootheel is unconscionable....and in keeping with their addiction to losing.

Hackett's a crap-shoot, but one with significant potential for victory. Brown's a nickel slot, with little chance of producing lucrative dividends against a two-term incumbent. Does anybody really think Brown could take out DeWine next year, even in the increasingly less likely event of a Democratic steamroll? Much as I like Brown's politics, he'd have his hands full winning an open Senate seat statewide.

Whatever happens, I hope these two guys can resolve their differences sooner rather than later and avoid a bruising primary. I hope even more strongly that Democratic Party leadership doesn't merrily push Hackett out of the Ohio political scene forever, but I fear they're well on their way.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 9, 2005 03:18 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment