In a race that may determine which party controls the U.S. Senate, Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst has taken a six-point lead over Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) in the Des Moines Register‘s Iowa Poll that was released on Saturday.
Ernst, an Iraq War veteran who received 44% of the vote, and Braley, who got 38%, will have their first debate on Sunday in what the Register said is a “race that has for months been considered deadlocked.” According to the poll, Ernst, who still serves in the National Guard, “leads nearly 4-1 with rural voters, and is up double digits with independents.”
Braley, meanwhile, is struggling. As the Register noted, Braley “isn’t winning in his home district, in northeast Iowa,” and “two-thirds of likely voters think it’s a problem that he missed a large percentage of Veterans Affairs Committee meetings in the U.S. House.” In addition to Obama’s sagging poll numbers in the state, Obamacare is also a problem for Braley, as 59% in the poll “think his role in crafting” Obamacare “is a problem.”
But Braley, who was captured denigrating Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) as just “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school” to a group of wealthy trial lawyers earlier this year, is getting hammered the most among rural voters. According to the poll, “only 15 percent support him compared with 58 percent for Ernst,” the state senator who got instant name recognition with her hog castration ad. In fact, a whopping “two-thirds of likely voters who live in the country are bothered by” Braley’s remarks denigrating farmers, according to the poll.
And last week, Braley’s neighbor, a lifelong Democrat whom the trial lawyer threatened to “sue over four pet chickens that occasionally wandered into his lawn,” told Breitbart News that she would vote for Ernst, who won the June GOP Senate primary with the unusual support of both Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney.
After Braley denigrated Iowa’s farmers, David Yepsin, who has long been considered the dean of Iowa politics, told the Register that, “This is bad for Braley and it will hurt him. Chuck Grassley is a political icon.”
“There are a lot of people who don’t have law degrees,” Yepsin said then. “It comes off as elitist.”
J. Ann Selzer, who conducts the poll, said that Braley, despite the warnings, did not taken advantage of his unopposed primary win to “build up his image” and has not “cleaned up his messes.”
The Iowa Poll surveyed 546 likely voters from Sept. 21-24 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points.