Ernst pulls even, or maybe ahead, in Iowa

Two new polls contain good news for those of us hoping to see the Republicans win the Iowa Senate seat being vacated by Tom Harkin. A Rasmussen poll has Republican Joni Ernst, fresh off of her victory earlier this week in the primary, in a dead heat with Democrat Bruce Braley (Ernst 45, Braley 44). Before the primary, Braley was leading Ernst by 4 to 8 points in the various polls.

A survey conducted by Loras College is even better for Ernst. That poll has Ernst ahead 48-42, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.0.

Is the Loras poll skewed in Ernst’s favor, as Democrats are claiming? Registered Republicans outnumbered registered Democrats among respondents by more than 3 percentage points (39.3 to 36.0). The actual registration numbers appear to be just about even as between the two parties, or were in 2012.

Obama’s approval rating among those surveyed was upside down at 42.5 to 54. That rating doesn’t seem inconsistent with the results of other polls. Indeed, a Quinnipiac poll from last December showed Obama faring considerably worse among Iowans (Braley led Ernst 44-38 in that survey, but had not yet branded Sen. Grassley “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school”).

Thus, if the Loras poll is skewed, it probably isn’t skewed by much. I suspect, however, that the Rasmussen results better reflect the state of the race.

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