Stop the Presses, Iowa Flipping Back to GOP?

Democrats have dumped millions of dollars into the race for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat between Democrat Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst, besting Republican spending by $2 million this month alone.

After Ernst’s campaign cash was drained in a hard-fought primary battle, she has had to rely on outside money to boost her profile. Democrats wasted no time bashing her on air with bruising campaign ads aimed at driving up her negatives among voters.

The result has been that Braley is pulling ahead in the most recent polls. Says Iowa GOP Speaker Brent Siegrist, “He’s got the momentum. It could still go either way but Braley has the edge right now. They’ve been beating her up a lot on the air.”

Not so fast. The Dems’ excitement was surely quashed after the latest Quinnipiac poll was released showing quite the opposite. Ernst is not only ahead, she appears to be leading by a strong six points, including a lead among Independent voters.

Ernst has changed strategies in her ad campaign from one that is more combative to a message that tells Iowa voters she’s one of them. In the latest ad she refers to herself as a “mom, soldier, and someone who really cares about the Iowa we leave for our children.”

The race for the Iowa Senate seat vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin is expected to play a critical role in the Republican strategy to retake the Senate. Should Ernst’s lead be cemented, Iowa could join Arkansas and Louisiana as likely pickups for the GOP.

While Dems have bullish on Braley, they also received bad news in New Hampshire where former Senator Scott Brown has pulled to even with Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Both seats remain among the RealClearPolitics ‘toss-up’ states. With the GOP confident it will win both in Arkansas and Louisiana, the party only needs to win one of these two states to take control of the Senate.