NEWS

Poll finds Ernst is front-runner in GOP U.S. Senate race

Jacobs second in Loras College Poll

US Senate candidate Joni Ernst speaks to attendees at the Johnson County Republicans annual BBQ fundraiser at Clear Creek Amana High School in Tiffin on Saturday, October 12, 2013. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCRG-TV9 TV9)
US Senate candidate Joni Ernst speaks to attendees at the Johnson County Republicans annual BBQ fundraiser at Clear Creek Amana High School in Tiffin on Saturday, October 12, 2013. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCRG-TV9 TV9)

CEDAR RAPIDS — State Sen. Joni Ernst has surged to an 11 percentage point lead in the race for the GOP nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat, according to a poll released this Thursday.

“Ernst has captured momentum in this race,” said Associate Professor of Politics and Director of the Loras College Poll, Christopher Budzisz. He noted that in a Loras poll in early April, Ernst and Jacobs were tied.

“Whether it was from her recent notable ad campaigns and endorsements, or not, she is the clear front-runner now,” he said.

The Loras College Poll of 600 likely Republican primary voters May 12-13 found 30.8 percent favoring Ernst to 19.3 percent backing former energy company CEO Mark Jacobs.

Rounding out the poll, which has a 4 percent margin of error, were: Sam Clovis, 9.5 percent; Matt Whitaker, 7.3; Scott Schaben, 2.3; and 29.2 percent undecided.

The poll, the second showing Ernst “north of 30 percent on the primary ballot” mirrors the enthusiasm the campaign is seeing on the ground in the run-up to the June 3 primary election, spokesman Derek Flowers said.

“These next final days will be critical for the candidates as they attempt to persuade the remaining undecided and persuadable voters,” Budzisz said.

Jacobs hopes the endorsement of Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, which he received Thursday, will help close the gap.

Campaigning in Cedar Rapids Thursday, Jacobs, who has the highest name recognition (83 percent) among the five-person field, said the race “is very much up in the air.”

So he is on the airwaves with ads questioning Ernst’s support for a gas tax increase and her absences from the Senate.

Flowers countered that the poll numbers may explain why Jacobs “hit the panic button this week and started attacking Joni with misleading negative ads.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@sourcemedia.net

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