Republican Joni Ernst opened up a 7-percentage-point lead over Democrat Bruce Braley in their hotly contested race for the U.S. Senate, according to new poll results published by The Des Moines Register
Last month, Ernst held just a 1-point lead
over the Democratic congressman — and in September, she was 6 points ahead. They are vying for the Iowa seat vacated by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin.
Ernst, who was endorsed Saturday by former President George H.W. Bush, was backed by 51 percent of the 701 voters
surveyed from Tuesday to Friday, compared with 44 percent who supported Braley.
Four percent remained undecided. The poll has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.
The lead is Ernst's widest in the three polls conducted by the newspaper, the Hawkeye State's largest, before Tuesday's election.
"This race looks like it's decided," said J. Ann Selzer, head of the Selzer & Co. firm that surveyed the voters for the Register. "That said, there are enormous resources being applied to change all that."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
talked with Iowa Democrats earlier Saturday in a conference call organized by a statewide progressive organization, the Register reports.
The Nevada Democrat urged voters to "double down and save the Senate."
"If we win Iowa, we're going to do just fine," he said, according to the Register. "Iowa is critical, there's no other way to say it."
If Republicans control the Senate, Reid said, "think of what that would mean for our country."
On Friday, the majority leader sent out an urgent email to Democrats pleading for help in raising $1 million to finance grassroots efforts heading into the final days of the campaign.
The subject line in the solicitation read, "I'm begging you now."
According to the Register, Ernst's lead widened in the latest poll because voters found the state senator to be stronger on national security issues. She has served in Iraq and is currently a commander in the Iowa Army National Guard.
Independents are also supporting Ernst over Braley, 51-39 percent, and negative campaign ads have hurt the Democrat more than Ernst among voters, the Register reports.
"None of this looks good for him," Selzer told the Register.
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