Republican Joni Ernst surged to a 7-point lead in the Iowa Poll released Sunday, moving her outside the margin of error in the high-stakes Senate race against Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley.
Ms. Ernst also moved above the all-important 50 percent mark in the poll, which showed her leading 51 to 44 percent against Mr. Braley among likely Iowa voters in a race that could determine control of the Senate.
That figure represents her largest lead to date in the Iowa Poll, sponsored by The Des Moines Register. The result is also outside the margin of error, an encouraging sign for Republicans hoping to take control of the Senate in Tuesday’s election.
“This race looks like it’s decided,” pollster J. Ann Selzer told The Register. “That said, there are enormous resources being applied to change all that.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Saturday that the Iowa Senate race outcome is pivotal to control of the Senate. Republicans need to flip six seats to gain a majority, which is now held by Democrats.
“If we win Iowa, we’re going to do just fine,” Mr. Reid said in a conference call. “Iowa is critical, there’s no other way to say it.”
The poll showed that voters believe Ms. Ernst, a state senator, “better reflects Iowa values, she cares more about people like them, and she’s more of a regular, down-to-earth person,” the Register said.
The poll found Mr. Braley has also been hurt by a snarky remark he made about Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, dismissing him at a private fundraiser as “a farmer from Iowa without a law degree,” according to an audio tape.
Independent voters favor Ms. Ernst by 51 to 39 percent, while 4 percent of likely voters said they were still undecided. Another 7 percent said they could still change their minds.
The polling firm Selzer & Co. of Des Moines surveyed 701 likely voters from Oct. 28-31. The margin of error is +/- 3.7 percent.