The battleground state of Iowa, where Republicans are trying to flip retiring Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat, has turned pink, according to a new poll.
A Quinnipiac University poll published Wednesday shows Republican Joni Ernst pulling ahead of Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley. Ernst, an Iraqi war veteran, leads Braley by a margin of 50 to 44 percent. The six-point advantage means Ernst is still three points ahead of Braley after deducting the poll’s 2.9% margin for error. Prior to Monday’s Quinnipiac poll, the two had been running neck and neck for the Iowa Senate seat.
Democrats are throwing the kitchen sink at Ernst, not to mention a visit by the Clintons over the weekend followed by a visit from VP Joe Biden, who seemed to be chasing Hillary Clinton with his own 2016 shadow campaign.
Retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, over the weekend at his 37th and final annual Steak Fry event, which Bill and Hillary Clinton attended, said, “The last thing we need in the United States Senate is another Tea Party zealot, who mocks people, refuses to compromise, and gets nothing done for Iowa.”
However, An earlier attempt by Braley to mock Republicans backfired after he was videoed at a Democratic Party fundraiser mocking senior Iowa senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, for having the mentality of a farmer as opposed to that of a lawyer.
“If you help me you may have someone with your background or you may have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school,” Braley told the lawyers, bottles of liquor clearly visible behind him. A Braley political ad featuring a baby “chick” called “Peep” also backfired when women on both sides of the political isle were offended by what was perceived as a sexist slight against women.
Another factor in the Iowa Senate race is the long shadow Pres. Barack Obama has cast over the race. In the latest poll, three in 10 voters said their vote in the Iowa race is largely a vote against Obama.
While the dueling presidential ghost campaigns of Biden and Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination was a distraction from the Iowa Senate race, the poll is the first showing Ernst with a clear lead in the contest. Republicans need to flip six Democratic Senate seats to gain control of the upper house of Congress. At the same time, political pundits and analysts agree that the House of Representatives will Continue to caucus under a Republican majority.
The new Quinnipiac poll of 1,167 likely voters conducted Sept. 10-15 has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.