In a poll released Wednesday by the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, Rep, Bruce Braley (D-IA) holds a commanding lead with early voters in Iowa’s open US Senate race compared to his Republican opponent, Joni Ernst. While the poll shows the race to be a dead heat, which is consistent with recent polling, Braley holds an imposing 15-point lead with those who have already voted. The poll also shows that Braley has a 10-point lead with independent voters.
The internal poll from Braley’s campaign might be seen as overly optimistic and partisan by some. However, considering that the results fall in line with recent polling from national firms seems to indicate that this survey is fairly accurate. Also, the sample size (802 voters) isn’t overly small as we’ve seen in the past with other partisan polls that prove to be outliers. Therefore, it has to be troubling for Ernst that she is far behind when it comes to those who have voted early and independents.
With early voters, Braley is up 54% to 39%. The registration of those who have already voted is pretty much split down the middle, 40% for Democrats and 41% for Republicans. Therefore, independents appear to be coming out in droves for Braley. The poll also shows that independent voters prefer Braley (51%) over Ernst (41%). Overall, the poll shows Ernst and Braley tied, 47% – 47%. This would seem to indicate that the majority of Ernst’s supporters plan on voting on Tuesday.
Ernst’s strategy down the stretch appears to be to appeal directly to her base and energize them ahead of Election Day. At the same time, she is doing her level best to avoid saying anything else that will reveal how extreme her views and positions really are. Braley and Democrats are hammering Ernst with ads detailing her positions on privatizing Social Security and personhood. She’s also been caught making Sharron Angle-like comments about the Second Amendment. With all that in the wind, Ernst’s campaign decided to have her pull out of previous commitments she had with newspapers to meet with their editorial boards. They needed her to avoid saying anything else that could jeopardize a winnable race.
Iowa is a key state for Republicans in their quest to take over the Senate. The seat has been long held by a Democrat, the retiring Tom Harkin. If Democrats are able to retain this seat, it makes it much more likely that they will keep the majority in the Senate. Braley’s large leads with early and independent voters bode well for Democrats keeping this seat.