Based on this article, things are looking grim for the Democrats holding Tom Harkin’s Senate seat:

Joni Ernst is back to “hogging” Iowa airwaves, as she barrels into Election Day with another pig-themed ad, a slight edge over her Democratic rival in the polls and a significant fundraising advantage.

This race is Ernst’s to lose. Thus far, I haven’t seen anything that suggests she’ll mess up. Ernst’s latest ad is fantastic. Here’s the transcript:

It’s a mess. It’s dirty, noisy and it stinks. Not this lot. I’m talking about the one in Washington. Too many typical politicians hogging, wasting and full of — well, let’s just say bad ideas. It’s time to stop spending money we don’t have and balance the budget. I’m Joni Ernst and I approve this message because cleaning up the mess in Washington is going to take a whole lot of Iowa common sense.

The thing that people haven’t talked about yet is the two parties’ GOTV operations. At this point, Republicans are outdistancing Democrats:

The latest good omen for Republicans was in early voting and absentee ballots, where the party says more registered Republicans than Democrats are voting early for the first time in modern-Iowa election history.

For days, I’ve heard Democrats talking about how their GOTV was a major reason why they still had hope of keeping their Senate majority. If Iowa is a bellwether, then some of the polling that we’re seeing won’t pick up the Republicans’ strength until the polls close.

That certainly isn’t something that Democrats want to think of as a possibility.

David Yepsen, director of the Southern Illinois Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and former chief political reporter for the Des Moines Register, said Ernst would be wise to campaign on issues like President Obama, foreign policy, the economy, and jobs and stay away from social issues.

“She needs to stay on a soft conservative message,” said Yepsen, adding he thinks the Ernst campaign will stay fairly quiet on them for the remainder of the race. “Social issues aren’t a winning issue for Republicans as they used to be, so don’t talk about it.”

To that end, Republicans have been hitting Braley on foreign policy, especially on the Islamic State threat. Ernst, a member of the Iowa National Guard who has served in Iraq, said in a press release that Braley is “disengaged” and “he doesn’t even know what he’s voted on,” when it came to airstrikes in Syria. Ernst also called Braley “wishy-washy” on the issue of ISIS during a campaign stop. Braley’s campaign has fought back on these claims.

Pardon the pun but this isn’t the battlefield that Braley wants to fight on. He wants to fight on the ‘War on women battlefield’. Frankly, I don’t see that gaining traction. It hasn’t thus far. Why think it’ll change right before the election?

This race will be decided by the GOTV operations and Joni Ernst being the most likable, most approachable and, most importantly, most qualified candidate in the race.

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