Ernst-Braley hold final debate, as Ernst leads the race narrowly

Two more polls released in the last few days have Joni Ernst (a Power Line pick) leading Bruce Braley in the Iowa Senate race. A USA Today/Suffolk poll shows Ernst ahead by 47-43. A Quinnipiac poll, with a larger sample, has it Ernst 47-Braley 45.

This means that the four most recent publicly released polls all have Ernst ahead. The combined number of individuals polled in these surveys is nearly 3,500.

These polls were all taken before last night’s debate between Ernst and Braley, which I did not see. This was the final debate between the two.

According to reports, Ernst hammered Braley for supporting Obamacare (we didn’t need a report to tell us that). Braley attempted to hammer Ernst on issues of abortion and contraception. Apparently, he is borrowing from Mark Udall’s “war on women” playbook. Let’s hope it works as well for Braley, who unlike Udall is running against a woman, as it has for the beleaguered Colorado Senator.

The Des Moines Register described the debate as a mirror image of the campaign — “close, hard-fought, and shot through with never-ending charges and countercharges and claims and counterclaims.” This suggests that it did not change the dynamic of the race, which is what “analysts” told the Register. But who knows?

Based on pre-debate polling, Nate Silver, political forecaster extraordinaire, put the probability of an Ernst victory on Election Day at 66 percent. Thus, unless the debate changed the dynamic, the race is still competitive, but the edge belongs to Ernst.

Looking at the overall battle for the Senate, Silver finds a 60.8 likelihood that, as Braley would say, an Iowa farmer will head the Senate Judiciary Committee. The number crunchers at the New York Times and the Washington Post say the likelihood is greater than that (the Post places the probability of Republicans winning at 96 percent, which seems much too high).

The Iowa race remains extremely important and closely contested under any reasonable model. To support Joni Ernst, you can donate here.