Story highlights

Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst are locked in a close race

Only one percentage point separates the two

Millions have been spent on the closely watched race

Washington CNN —  

Only one percentage points separates Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst in the race to represent Iowa in the U.S. Senate.

If the election were held today, 49% of likely Iowa voters say they would vote for Braley and 48% say they would support Ernst, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. That means the contentious race is within the survey’s overall sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The electorate is far from solidified. Twenty percent of likely voters polled in Iowa said they could change their mind before Election Day in November.

Bruce Braley
Getty Images
Bruce Braley
Joni Ernst
JoniforIowa.com
Joni Ernst

The Braley-Ernst race has been one of the most closely watched of the election year. With longtime Sen. Tom Harkin retiring, Democrats are fighting to keep the seat in blue hands and hope that a win in Iowa will keep the Senate in Democratic control.

Republicans have other ideas, however, and hope that Ernst – currently a state senator and lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard – will be able to flip the seat.

With a little less than two months until Election Day, the race has already seen millions of dollars spent. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the two candidates had spent almost $6 million as of July.

That figure doesn’t include the millions that outside Republican and Democratic groups have spent on the race, either.

Even with all the money spent, some likely voters are still unaware of each candidate. Six percent of likely Iowa voters are unfamiliar with Ernst, while 9% of voters say they are unfamiliar with Braley.

Partisanship appears to trump identity politics in the race, too.

Most women are supporting Braley, the Democratic man, while most men are supporting Ernst, the Republican woman.

The two candidates are basically flipped with likely male and female voters: Braley is winning 41% of men and 57% of women, while Ernst is winning 56% of men and 41% of women.

The CNN/ORC poll was conducted September 8-10, with 1,013 Iowa adults – 608 likely voters – questioned by telephone.