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Braley holds slim lead over Ernst in race for Senate seat


This news story was published on June 18, 2014.
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U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol

DES MOINES – State Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senator in Iowa, trails U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democrat, 44 – 40 percent, as an unusual gender gap shows women supporting the man while men support the woman, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to a 42 – 29 percent Braley lead over Ernst in a March 13 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.

Today, women back Braley 47 – 36 percent, while men back Ernst 44 – 40 percent. Republicans back their candidate 79 – 5 percent and Democrats are loyal 89 – 6 percent. Independent voters are split 38 – 38 percent.

Bruce Braley

Bruce Braley

Braley gets a 35 – 26 percent favorability rating from Iowa voters, with 37 percent who don’t know enough about him to form an opinion, compared to 46 percent who didn’t know enough in March.

Ernst gets an almost identical 34 – 28 percent favorability with 37 percent who don’t know enough about her, compared to 80 percent who didn’t know enough in March.

A total of 47 percent of voters have seen Ernst campaign ads “very often” or “somewhat often” and 57 percent of all voters say they are “very effective” or “somewhat effective.

A total of 35 percent of voters have seen Braley ads “very often” or “somewhat often” and 50 percent of all voters say they are “very effective” or “somewhat effective.”

Joni Ernst

Joni Ernst

“Winning the Republican nomination introduced State Sen. Joni Ernst to the Iowa electorate positively and put her within range of U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democrat. When Quinnipiac University surveyed Iowans in March, Joni Ernst was an unknown. Now she is as well-known as Bruce Braley, and his double-digit lead has all but evaporated,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.

“The unusual split is due to some degree the fact that women tend to lean Democratic while men lean Republican,” Brown added.

Iowa voters give both Senate candidates good grades for character:

  • Voters say 45 – 22 percent that Braley is honest and trustworthy, compared to 45 – 24 percent for Ernst;
  • Braley cares about their needs and problems, voters say 47 – 26 percent, compared to 44 – 31 percent for Ernst;
  • Braley has the right kind of experience to be a U.S. Senator, voters say 51 – 21 percent, compared to 43 – 33 percent for Ernst;
  • Braley is “about right” on the political scale, 43 percent of voters say, while 26 percent say he is too liberal. Ernst is “about right,” 41 percent of voters say, while 27 percent say she is too conservative.

Despite an 11-point Braley lead among women, Iowa voters say 49 – 30 percent that Ernst would do a better job on issues important to women. Matchups on other issues show:

  • 40 – 36 percent that Braley would do a better job on the economy and jobs;
  • 42 – 34 percent that Braley would do a better job on the new federal health care law;
  • 38 – 34 percent that Braley would do better on immigration;
  • 34 – 28 percent that Braley would do better on same-sex marriage;
  • 43 – 28 percent that Braley would do better on the environment;
  • 45 – 28 percent that Braley would do better on the minimum wage;
  • 42 – 38 percent that Braley would do a better job helping the middle class;
  • 40 – 37 percent that Ernst would do a better job helping farmers;
  • 40 percent say Ernst would do a better job on government spending, while 38 percent say Braley would be better;
  • 39 – 31 percent that Braley would do a better job on gun control.

“Braley has a small lead in more measurements of personal characteristics and which candidate is better able to handle issues facing the state, but neither candidate’s views and values are firmly fixed in the electorate’s mind with a third of voters not knowing enough about either candidate to have an opinion,” Brown said.

“One interesting data point is that voters think 44 – 31 percent that Ernst cares about their needs and problems, a category in which Republicans, even victorious ones, often struggle. Her TV ads which stressed her farm family background apparently are doing their job.”

From June 12 – 16, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,277 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

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