Tight race and unusual gender gap in Iowa Senate battle
June 18th, 2014
08:32 AM ET
2 months ago

Tight race and unusual gender gap in Iowa Senate battle

(CNN) - It's pretty much all tied up in a crucial Senate contest that could decide whether the Republicans take control of the chamber in November's midterm elections, according to a new poll.

A Quinnipiac University survey of Iowa voters released Wednesday indicates Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley with a slight 44%-40% edge over GOP state Sen. Joni Ernst in the battle to succeed longtime Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, who is retiring at the end of the year. If the Republicans can flip Harkin's seat and five other Democratic held seats, they would win control of the Senate.

Braley's four percentage point margin is within the poll's sampling error.

zzzzz photo

The close race compares to a 42%-29% Braley held over Ernst in a Quinnipiac survey from mid March. That right around the time that Ernst went up with her first campaign commercial, in which the candidate said "I'm Joni Ernst. I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm so when I get to Washington, I'll know how to cut pork."

The provocative spot quickly gave statewide and even national attention to the little known state senator. It was followed by another ad that showed Ernst, a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard, riding up to a gun range on a motorcycle.

The commercials put Ernst in the spotlight and arguably helped turn her into the front runner in the free-for-all multi-candidate battle for the GOP Senate nomination. Ernst won the backing from both mainstream GOP organizations as well as anti-establishment and tea party groups, and ended up winning the June 3 primary by a landslide.

Braley, a four-term congressman, was unopposed in his primary.

Gender gap in spotlight

Ernst hopes to make history in November as the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress. But the poll indicates women backing Braley 47%-36% with men supporting Ernst 44%-40%. While it may seem unusual that women are backing the male candidate and the female candidate has a slight edge among men, remember that women voters tend to lean Democratic with men usually leaning towards the GOP.

With primary over, key Senate race gets ugly

Iowa voters give both candidates positive grades for character.

"Braley has a small lead in more measurements of personal characteristics and which candidate is better able to handle issues facing the state, but neither candidate's views and values are firmly fixed in the electorate's mind with a third of voters not knowing enough about either candidate to have an opinion," said Quinnipiac Poll assistant director Peter Brown.

"One interesting data point is that voters think 44 – 31 percent that Ernst cares about their needs and problems, a category in which Republicans, even victorious ones, often struggle. Her TV ads which stressed her farm family background apparently are doing their job," Brown added.

Complete Coverage: Midterm Elections

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted June 12-16, with 1,277 Iowa voters questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.


Filed under: 2014 • Bruce Braley • Iowa • Joni Ernst • Senate • Senate Race
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    I guess the GOP will always pick symbolism over actions any day. Ernst is nothing more than another member of the whack-job chorus that handed caucus wins to Pat Robertson, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum, none of which are in the mainstream on any issue. All Ernst will do is collect another paycheck at taxpayer expense while doing the bidding of people who could care less about Iowa and its interests, so long as they fall in line with the rest of the sheep, braying out their responses about liberty and freedom while doing everything they can to restrict it to those who meet their increasingly narrow and shallow criteria.

    June 18, 2014 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  2. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Ahh, I was wondering what happened to repealing Obamacare. Since Plan (B)enghazi is working out so well for them, I thought maybe they'd forgotten to deny healthcare to the less fortunate. And yet the PWT will vote for them in droves.

    June 18, 2014 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  3. an Iowan

    As an Iowa woman, I would love to see a woman Senator, however.....not Joni Ernst.....don't need another GOP puppet. We need someone who would stand up for the state of Iowa – not someone who will simply follow and further the GOP and Flea Party agendas!
    Her ads are specific only to "killing Obamacare". Guess she doesn't know this is the law now, and I wish she would quit beating that dead horse and tell us how we can move forward, create jobs, bolster the economy, etc.

    June 18, 2014 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  4. Lizzie

    Guess if she was a democrat than ..................

    June 18, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  5. Dead Bear

    Another member of the party of no ideas. No doubt she'll model herself as the new Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, or Michelle Bachmann. You know. Heavy on criticism and rhetoric but no clue on how to govern or represent.

    June 18, 2014 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  6. ST

    Will GOP ever learn anything? You can't invite a loser like Sarah Palin to support you in order to win while she didn't make it herself. I can't wait seeing them pushing Romney to run again and expect to win. He will for sure lose for another 5th or 7th time. Go for it GOP, you are making history in losing.

    June 18, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  7. O'drama ya Mama

    Thats gotta say a lot when a women doesnt represent the women of the state.

    June 18, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  8. Bill from GA

    Joni Ernst, and most righties, campaign on 'Repeal Obamacare'.

    An article on CNN Money says the CBO estimates the Obamacare subsidies will be about $12 billion.
    Oil companies' subsidies range from over $10 billion to over $50 billion, depending on what is counted.

    How many righties campaign on 'Repeal Oil Company Subsidies'? Priorities?

    June 18, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Ernst hopes to make history in November as the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress."

    Be careful, Iowa. Be very very careful whom you vote for. Michele Bachmann was the first women from Minnesota elected to the U.S. House. She's been nothing but controversy since.

    June 18, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  10. Malory Archer

    Lizzie
    Guess if she was a democrat than ..................

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    "than"...... what?

    June 18, 2014 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Lynda/Minnesota
    "Ernst hopes to make history in November as the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress."

    Be careful, Iowa. Be very very careful whom you vote for. Michele Bachmann was the first women from Minnesota elected to the U.S. House. She's been nothing but controversy since.
    ---------

    Oops. I should have stated: first REPUBLICAN woman from Minnesota elected to the U.S. House.

    June 18, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  12. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Lynda/Minnesota says:
    June 18, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am
    Lynda/Minnesota
    “Ernst hopes to make history in November as the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress.”

    Be careful, Iowa. Be very very careful whom you vote for. Michele Bachmann was the first women from Minnesota elected to the U.S. House. She’s been nothing but controversy since.
    ————————-

    Oops. I should have stated: first REPUBLICAN woman from Minnesota elected to the U.S. House.

    You're good Lynda...
    I was thinking isn't it funny how the GOP attempts to call the democrats out for something and then turn around and do it themselves.

    For example, we support Hillary for POTUS and say she'll be the first female POTUS. They berate us and say why should it matter what gender she is. It's about being able to do the job.... Then they trot out Palin. We support President Obama. They claim again his race shouldn't matter, it's if he can do the job. Then they trot out Mr. 999, Allen West, Michael Steel and Ben Carson.

    They're flat out hypocrites and they don't care who knows.

    June 18, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  13. Hooper

    If the republicans win elections it's a shame. If the people get out and vote, instead of staying home the republicans will always be defeated. It's imperative that people exercise their right to vote. GET OUT AND VOTE.

    June 18, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Wake up

    Hey, thanks for the perceptive ... ! I didn't catch that because ... well, I've never given it much thought one way or another. But, yeah. How true. Here they are trotting Ernst out as a "woman" ... first woman ever.

    Putting your comment in my "save" file to be used when needed.

    June 18, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  15. just asking

    an Iowan
    As an Iowa woman, I would love to see a woman Senator, however.....not Joni Ernst.....don't need another GOP puppet. We need someone who would stand up for the state of Iowa – not someone who will simply follow and further the GOP and Flea Party agendas!
    --

    oh give me a break! as if the democrat wouldn't be a total sock puppet for reid and obama!!

    June 18, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  16. Gunderson

    Humm !,
    Old Gunderson want democrats take complete charge of government. Then we have Utopia, no? Like we have when democrats in charge for 40 years. We just need get rid dirty republicans then happy days here again. Golly who provide jobs then?

    June 18, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  17. Tommy G

    As usual, the lefties in here spewing their hate against any woman that isn't part of the leftist Democrat Borg community. This is the TRUE war on woman and it is being waged by leftists on ANY woman that doesn't conform to their beliefs. So much for the "tolerant left"! Actually, it is pretty sad on their part.

    June 18, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  18. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Lynda/Minnesota says:
    June 18, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am
    @ Wake up

    Hey, thanks for the perceptive … ! I didn’t catch that because … well, I’ve never given it much thought one way or another. But, yeah. How true. Here they are trotting Ernst out as a “woman” … first woman ever.

    Putting your comment in my “save” file to be used when needed.

    No problem. Use it anytime you want. After all, what difference at this point does it make?? 😄😄😄I had to use that line at least once...☺️☺️☺️

    June 18, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. Anonymous

    What is wrong with u people.

    June 18, 2014 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Tommy G

    Hey, buddy. I've absolutely no hate for either Ernst or Bachmann. But, thanks for playing. My only comment suggested Iowans be completely comfortable with the hog castrating Joni Ernst. She may prove to be an embarrassment to Iowa much in the same manner Michele Bachmann certainly proved to be an embarrassment to GOPerville (and Minnesota).

    The article itself referenced her gender. I simply followed up on that reference. Apparently she's rather proud of her "womanhood". I say good for her.

    June 18, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  21. Malory Archer

    Anonymous
    What is wrong with u people.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Look everyone – "Queen" Ann has decided to grace us with her presence!

    June 18, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |