Tags: Polls | Iowa | senate | Ernst | leading | Braley

Quinnipiac: GOP's Joni Ernst Pulls Ahead in Iowa Senate Race

By    |   Wednesday, 17 September 2014 07:07 PM

Quinnipiac University handed Iowans a surprise Wednesday with the release of a poll showing that Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst holds a 6-point lead, 50-44 percent, over U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat, in their race to replace five-term Sen. Tom Harkin, 74, who will retire at the end of his term.

Once more, pundits are placing the blame on President Barack Obama's low popularity, which is thought to be dragging down Democratic hopefuls across the nation, Quinnipiac assistant director Peter A. Brown said.

"There is also a message to President Barack Obama in these numbers. Almost three in 10 voters say theirs is mainly a vote against the president, a troubling number for Democrats. Only 12 percent say they are voting to back the president.

"If these results show up in other states, it could produce the kind of wave for which Republicans are hoping."

There's an odd gender reversal to the Iowa poll results, with Ernst leading Braley by 56-39 percent among male voters, while Braley leads Ernst by 50-44 percent among female voters, but it is on independent voters that the race likely will depend, Brown said, and Ernst leads there by 50 percent to 43 percent.

""The tale of independent voters tells you all you need to know about the Iowa Senate race," said Brown.

"These independents are perhaps the most important voter bloc in the electorate, and state Sen. Joni Ernst is ahead 7 percentage points among them — just about her overall lead. The key to any comeback by U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley will be chipping away at her lead among independents."

Eighty-four percent of those surveyed said their minds are made up.

The race has been neck-and-neck so far, but the new poll shows Ernst pulling away from Braley significantly for the first time. Just a week ago, a CNN/ORC poll found that Braley led Ernst by a single percentage point, 49-48 percent.

Real Clear Politics' averaging of several polls found the race much too close to call, at 44 percent for Braley and 43.8 for Ernst, and concluded, "Braley's campaign has been beset by gaffes, while Republicans coalesced around state Sen. Joni Ernst. Some still fear that Ernst won't hold up to the rigors of a long campaign in the spotlight, but for now this looks to be a very competitive race."

Democrats concerned over the possible impending loss of a Senate seat are sending in the heavyweights — both Clintons and Michelle Obama — to stump for Braley.

"Sen. Ernst's television commercials and campaign have presented her as a born and bred Iowan who never lost her farm-girl values," Brown said. "She should pay her strategists and media folks quite well because up until now they have sold that message effectively.

"The fact that more voters think she cares more about their needs than does Braley is telling. That is a measurement that many Republicans, even winning GOPers, lose."

The poll was taken Sept. 10-15 among 1,167 likely voters.

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Quinnipiac University handed Iowans a surprise today with the release of a poll showing that Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst holds a six point lead, 50-44 percent, over Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, in their race to replace five-term Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, 74, who will...
Iowa, senate, Ernst, leading, Braley
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 07:07 PM
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