In an election battle that could play a pivotal role in flipping control of the U.S. Senate, Iowa State Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican, holds a slim lead over Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, according to a GOP pollster.
Ernst currently leads Braley 49 percent to 44 percent, according to a new report released by Vox Populi.
The poll shows a reverse for Ernst, who was trailing Braley prior to her primary victory over her three challengers, including Republican businessman Mark Jacobs.
If Ernst manages to hold her lead, cruising to a midterm victory against Braley, she will move the Republican Party one step closer to wresting control of the Senate from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
The Vox Populi poll, which was conducted from June 4-5, is based on a sample size of 667 active voters who voted in the 2010 or 2012 general elections or have registered to vote since 2012.
The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.
Ernst's bump in the polls following her big primary win reveals what appears to be continued popular support from both Republican establishment and conservative grassroots groups.
“With her farming and military backgrounds and the fact that she is a woman who has never served in Washington, GOP operatives in D.C. believed she presented Braley with the toughest match-up,” the Washington Examiner's David Drucker reported.
“She really causes problems for him,” a Republican insider said.
Separately, Tea Party activists have been keen to back Ernst's senate bid, citing her staunch conservative credentials.
"We support Joni Ernst because she's a principled conservative, she has strong grassroots support in Iowa, and she can win. These qualities have given Ernst broad appeal and helped her go from being the underdog to the front runner in this race," the Senate Conservatives Fund's Matt Hoskins said.
Polls conducted by partisan outfits such as the Mary Cheney-founded Vox Populi should be treated with caution. However, as the Hill noted, the Vox Populi poll is “in line with the first non-partisan public poll of the race, one conducted by Loras College that found her leading by 48 percent to 42 percent.”