An Incumbent Fantasy

The Daily Beast has a story on “The Hunted Democrat,” incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio who is facing the voters in November. Short version: Brown once had a big lead in the polls, then groups starting spending money attacking him, now his lead is cut in half. Brown laments: “I’m disturbed. If it weren’t for all the outside money, this wouldn’t even be a race.”

It’s understandable that Brown would complain about money spent criticizing him. After all, he would prefer that the 2012 Ohio Senate contest not be a race at all. The story suggests something is wrong with the money spent criticizing Brown.

The story largely ignores Brown’s real problem. The Americans for Democratic Action give Brown a 95 out of 100 voting score (100 is as liberal as possible). Ohio has been trending Democratic in recent presidential elections, but the state is nonetheless evenly divided, a leading battleground state. Brown is voting like he represents Vermont and then complaining when groups point out the distance between his votes and the views of most people in Ohio.

The Daily Beast story and Senator Brown are really saying: wouldn’t it be better if all those “outside” groups could not tell voters that their senator was well to the left of the state he represented? It would certainly be good for Brown and other Senate incumbents. It would not be good for the voters of Ohio.