“I think it’s all about the dignity of work,” says Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in an interview in the back seat of his Chevy Suburban. “I talk about how we value work. People who get up every day and work hard and do what we expect of them should be able to get ahead. I don’t think they hear that enough from Republicans or national Democrats.”
It is an old-fashioned theme much favored by Brown, who proudly sees himself as a labor Democrat. But it is also a direct response to the 2016 political catastrophe for Brown’s party across the Midwest — and especially in Ohio.
One bottom-line truth of American politics is that given the way the electoral college operates, Democrats need to reverse the flight of the white working class to President Trump’s GOP. Ohio is ground zero this year in testing the durability of Trump’s coalition.
In Brown’s quest for reelection, the appeal to workers is working. While Ohio swung from a three-point victory for Barack Obama in 2012 to an eight-point Trump win, Brown has enjoyed leads from 13 to 18 points over Republican Rep. James B. Renacci in three polls over the past month.