Republican Joni Ernst, Democrat Bruce Braley.

Republican Joni Ernst, Democrat Bruce Braley.

A new poll of Iowa’s U.S. Senate race released this morning shows Republican Joni Ernst with a slight lead over Democrat Bruce Braley.

“The latest Quinnipiac Poll finds that Joni Ernst is inching ahead,” says Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll. “She has a four point lead over Bruce Braley which is slightly outside the poll’s margin of error, but it’s still a very close race and anything can happen in the final week.”

Five percent of those surveyed were undecided. Ernst got the backing of 49 percent of those polled. Braley got 45 percent support.

“Certainly one would rather be in Joni Ernst’s shoes this morning than Bruce Braley, but with a week to go, anything can happen,” Brown says.

Ernst is leading among independent voters by nine points.

“And that’s a key to victory in a state like Iowa, which is a swing state with the two parties tightly bunched together,” Brown says. “…If Ms. Ernst wins by about 10 points among independents, she’ll be difficult to beat.”

The Quinnipiac University Poll was conducted from last Wednesday through Sunday has a margin of error of 3.4 percent. Nine percent of voters said they might change their mind between now and Election Day. The Quinnipiac Poll also found Governor Branstad with a 19 point lead over Democratic challenger Jack Hatch.