Poll: Ernst inches ahead of Braley in key Iowa contest

What makes candidate Joni Ernst special?
What makes candidate Joni Ernst special?

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Story highlights

  • Joni Ernst has a four-point lead over Rep. Bruce Braley in Iowa's Senate race
  • The reverse gender gap continued as Ernst leads among men and Braley leads with women
  • The race is a key pickup opportunity for the GOP as they try to retake the Senate
Joni Ernst is creeping away from her Democratic opponent in Iowa's contentious Senate race, building a lead of 4 percentage points in the latest poll.
The Republican candidate for Senate in Iowa carries 49% of support to U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley's 45% according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.
Six days before the election, Ernst has the momentum in a race that could tip the balance of the Senate, picking up 2 percentage points since Quinnipiac's previous poll in mid-October.
Ernst gained support among independents, a key bloc that favored Braley in the previous Quinnipiac poll. Ernst carried 51 percent of independent support to Braley's 41%, a seven-point upswing for Ernst.
Tea party favorite trying to win in Iowa
Tea party favorite trying to win in Iowa

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FLOTUS corrects her Bruce Braley fumble
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Republicans picked up an unprecedented lead in Iowa's early ballot count last week after a beefed up early voter ground game and the two parties are now neck-in-neck in the early voting game. But the poll showed Braley still winning the early voting game, as Democrats have done in the past, leading among the respondents who had already voted 57% to 36%.
Braley and Ernst held onto their edge with women and men, respectively, but Ernst continues to carry male voters by a 17-point margin compared to Braley's eight-point lead among women.
Ernst has consistently led in polls over the last month, but the four-point lead is her best number yet after polling from the Des Moines Register/Bloomberg, NBC News/Marist and the previous Quinnipiac poll all showed her lead at or below 3 percentage points.
Braley's slumping prospects come despite Democrats' best efforts to boost Braley's candidacy with top class surrogates like First Lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren among others.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also returning to the Hawkeye State on Wednesday, with her husband former President Bill Clinton expected to rally voters with Braley on Monday.
Ernst could also be benefiting from the prospects of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who leads his Democratic challenger by 19 points.