The PJ Tatler

Ernst Leads by 7 in Latest Des Moines Register Poll

The well respected Des Moines Register poll published today gives GOP state Senator Joni Ernst a solid 7 point lead over her Democratic opponent, Rep. Bruce Braley.

Ernst has enjoyed a small lead in 7 out of the last 9 polls , so the fact that she’s ahead is not surprising. But Ernst’s margin may raise questions about whether the poll is an outlier or not.

Be that as it may, Ernst is almost certainly ahead. The poll found Braley trailing her by 3 points in his own congressional district. Voters also saw Ernst with more ability to work across the aisle with Democrats in Congress.

Then there’s this little tidbit:

3. Although Ernst could become the first woman Iowa sends to Congress, few of her supporters (just 5 percent) say that’s one of the strongest reasons to vote for her. In contrast, about a quarter (24 percent) of Braley voters say it’s one of the strongest reasons to vote for Ernst — they’re just not going to do so.

GOP voters are apparently less likely to indulge in identity politics than Democrats.

The poll is not only good news for Ernst, it’s horrible news for Harry Reid, who said yesterday that if the GOP wins Iowa, they will take the Senate.

The Nevada Democrat said if Braley wins in Iowa, Democrats will do “just fine.” And if they lose? Say hello to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Reid said in a conference call Saturday with the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

“Joni Ernst would mean — coming to the United States Senate — that Mitch McConnell would be leader of the United States Senate, who agrees with her on everything. Think of what would mean for our country,” Reid said of Ernst, repeatedly attacking her positions against raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Caitlin Conant, a spokeswoman for Ernst, replied: “Reid says Democrats will be ‘just fine’ if Braley wins, but Iowa can do better. Reid is only backing Braley because he supports Obama’s agenda of higher taxes, more debt and Obamacare.”

The Hawkeye State is being viewed increasingly as a national bellwether in the battle for the Senate, and Ernst has maintained a narrow but stubborn edge in recent polling. Reid said he was confident that Democrats could pull out tight races in New Hampshire and North Carolina but left Iowa as the “critical” question mark in Democrats’ hopes.

In typical fashion, Reid laid into Ernst and tied her to the billionaire Koch brothers. He laid out Democrats’ defense of Braley as essential to “protecting the people of America from these insidious groups,” then attacked Ernst for skipping out on an editorial board meeting with the Des Moines Register, which endorsed Braley.

Harry would be smart to get a head start on packing up his belongings and measuring the drapes in the minority leader’s office.

In another good sign for Republicans, a new NBC-Marist poll shows Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lengthening his lead to 9 points over Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky. And in Georgia, David Perdue has jumped out to a 4 point lead over Michelle Nunn. But neither candidate has yet to crack 50% and with Libertarian Amanda Swafford pulling 3%, it’s entirely possible this race is headed for a January 6 runoff next year.

Louisiana looks increasingly like it’s headed for a runoff too:

In a three way contest, incumbent Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu gets 44 percent, while Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy gets 36 percent and Tea Party ally Rob Maness gets 15 percent.

In head-to-head matchups pitting Landrieu against either GOP candidate, both Cassidy and Maness receive 50 percent support, while Landrieu performs almost identically against either Republican – at 45 and 46 percent, respectively.

Partly because he’s less well known in the state, Cassidy enjoys a better favorable rating (45 percent favorable/ 41 percent unfavorable) than Landrieu (44 percent favorable / 50 percent unfavorable). Landrieu was first elected in 1996 and has survived two competitive elections since.

Republicans can afford to lose either Georgia or Kansas, where incumbent GOP Senator Pat Roberts is tied with Democrat/independent Greg Orman. Losing them both would put them in the awkward position of probably having to win at least one of the close races they currently trail in — North Carolina, New Hampshire, or Alaska.