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Mixed news today out of Iowa.  First there's this:

The U.S. Senate race in Iowa is shaping up to be deeply competitive, a new poll finds, while former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) looks like less of a threat in his effort to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) and state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) are deadlocked at 43 percent in the race to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), according to an NBC/Marist poll released Wednesday. Fourteen percent of voters remain undecided, and the candidates still have room to make an impression -- while each had a modestly favorable rating among voters, a third haven't heard of or are unsure about Braley, and 28 percent say the same about Ernst.

Early polling this year put Braley ahead, but the race appears to have tightened. Three surveys taken directly after the state's June 3 primary gave Ernst leads of 1 to 6 percentage points, although a mid-June Quinnipiac University poll found Braley 4 points ahead. HuffPost Pollster's model, which incorporates all publicly available polling, finds the race tied. - Huffington Post, 7/16/14

Here's a little more info:

Iowa Republican senatorial candidate State Sen. Joni Ernst looks on before a live televised debate at Iowa Public Television studios, Thursday, April 24, 2014, in Johnston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
In Iowa, Ernst and Braley each have the support of 43% of registered voters. But both candidates remain unknown to many in the state; 14% of voters are undecided about who they support in the race, and approximately one-third say they are unsure about their opinion on the candidates or have never heard of them.

But both candidates are polarizing to the voters who know them. Braley gets positive marks from 36% of voters and a negative rating from 32%. Ernst’s favorability-to-unfavorability rating is 38% to 33%.

“Any way you slice the numbers, you end up with a close race,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the poll for NBC News. “This is one that bears watching as the campaign unfolds.”

But the gender gap is much smaller in Iowa. Women back Braley by eight points (45% to 37%) while men support Ernst – who gained national fame with an ad describing an Iowa farm upbringing that included the frequent castration of pigs – by a similar margin (48% to 40%).

“The party factor seems to be trumping gender as far as how voters are assessing these two candidates at the moment,” Miringoff said. - MSNBC, 7/16/14

Not the greatest news but here's a silver lining that will play well for Braley:

On the federal health care law known as Obamacare, 50 percent of registered voters think it's a bad idea, while 32 percent think it's a good idea. And some have passionate feelings about the Affordable Care Act - 43 percent strongly think it's a bad idea; 22 strongly think it's a good idea.

A majority - 51 percent - approve of a proposal that would require companies to reduce greenhouse gases that cause global warming, even if it would mean higher utility bills for consumers to pay for the changes. Thirty-nine percent disapprove.

Registered voters are split on whether to create a pathway to citizenship that would allow foreigners who have jobs but are staying illegally in the United States the opportunity to eventually become legal American citizens - 48 percent disapprove, 46 percent approve, the survey found.

When it comes to President Barack Obama, 52 percent disapprove of the job he's doing in the White House; 37 approve. Fully 66 percent think the nation's on the wrong track; 26 percent say it's headed in the right direction.

The poll was conducted July 7-13 with 1,599 registered voters, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points. - Des Moines Register, 7/16/14

Emphasis mine.

Environmental groups are spending big exposing Ernst as a loyal ally to big polluters and Braley is on the right side of this issue.  This race is still very winnable because Ernst is a nut job but she's getting some big outside support:

Conservative fundraising group American Crossroads is filling in for Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Joni Ernst while she participates in Iowa National Guard training for two weeks.

Group spokesman Paul Lindsay told The Associated Press on Monday that the group backed by GOP strategist Karl Rove is spending $415,000 on a 30-second television ad that begins airing statewide Tuesday. That's in addition to the $3.1 million in advertising time the group has reserved in Iowa as part of the $20-million blitz the group plans in Senate battleground states.

Meanwhile, Ernst's opponent, four-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, promoted Monday an increase in the federal minimum wage as a way to increase funding for Social Security. Ernst opposes a federal minimum wage.

"Our campaign will continue talking about the issues at stake in this election," Braley spokesman Jeff Giertz said.

After three decades, Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin is retiring after the November election, making Iowa among the top targets for Republicans, who need to gain six Senate seats to assume control of the chamber.

Ernst's campaign will air an ad during her two weeks at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, but she won't publicly campaign during that time, aides said.

Enter American Crossroads, which is a super PAC unaffiliated with Ernst's campaign and not bound by federal laws limiting contributions, though it is required to disclose its donors. - Huffington Post, 7/14/14

We can still win this race, we just have to get our base out to the polls.  Click here to donate and get involved with Braley's campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Wed Jul 16, 2014 at 10:36 AM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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