As Outside Spending Floods Ohio, Senate Race Becomes a Toss-Up

Posted: Oct 31, 2012 9:43 PM

A new Rasmussen poll out today shows Ohio’s Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown up two points, 50-48, against his Republican challenger and state Treasurer Josh Mandel. The latest poll shifts Rasmussen’s rating of the race from ‘Leans Democrat’ back to ‘Toss-Up.’

Although polling has fluctuated vastly throughout the race (another CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac poll out today, for example, has Brown up 9 points, albeit with a D+8 sample) one constant has been the incredible amount of spending from outside groups in the race.

Long before Josh Mandel came to the forefront as the GOP challenger outside groups were spending big to take out the first-term incumbent and one of the most liberal in the Senate. 

Crossroads GPS spokesman Nate Hodson said his group, which has criticized Brown on energy, health care and the $16 trillion national debt, "began airing issue ads to shape the policy debate in the U.S. Senate from one which advocated for more spending, debt, and government like Sherrod Brown supports to one focused on creating jobs and opportunity." It wasn't about supporting Mandel specifically, he said, adding that any Republican would be preferable to Brown.

Asked why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce jumped in so early, spokeswoman Blair Latoff said it was "because of Sherrod Brown's record of failure on issues important to the business community," including health care, increased regulations and domestic energy production.

The spending from outside groups hasn’t abated, either. Outside groups are hitting Brown on everything from foreign policy to healthcare. Rand Paul’s PAC, for example, ran a TV spot against Senate Democrats who oppose his efforts to stop foreign aid spending to Pakistan, Libya and Egypt. The ad tailored to the Buckeye State hits Brown for voting "to send billions of our taxpayer dollars to countries where radicals storm our embassies, burn our flag and kill our diplomats." The Association for Builders and Contractors hit Brown for “rubber stamping job-killing regulations,” the 60 Plus Association went after him for the stimulus and the Government Integrity Fund pits a ‘young Sherrod Brown’ who “voted for Ohio” against today’s Sherrod Brown who “votes the party line.” Collectively, outside groups have spent more than $19 million in TV and radio ads against the Senator - more than anyone else in Congress, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads alone have spent $9.2 million in the Ohio Senate race.

The question is: Will it work?