Republican up in Iowa Senate polls
© Cameron Joseph

Two new polls find Republican Iowa Senate candidate Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP senators caught off guard by Shanahan withdrawal GOP senators caught off guard by Shanahan withdrawal Democrats' 2020 Achilles's heel: The Senate MORE leading with less than three weeks to go in her race against Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce Lowell BraleyOPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP Ten years later, House Dems reunite and look forward Trump: Ernst wanted 'more seasoning' before entertaining VP offer MORE (D).

Ernst is on top of Braley by four percentage points, 47 percent to 43 percent, according to a new USA Today/Suffolk University poll. That’s up from its last poll that found the two tied at 40 percent.

Voters view Ernst slightly more favorable than Braley. Forty six percent hold a favorable view of Ernst, compared to 43 percent for Braley.

About 7.5 percent of voters have yet to make a decision. 

"There are three questions: Who is going to win the remaining undecideds? Who can whittle down the other's poor numbers? What will be the make-up of the actual vote?" David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, said.

But a Quinnipiac Poll shows a bit better news for Braley. While Ernst still leads Braley with 47 percent support to 45 percent in that poll, her lead is down from her 50 percent-44 percent lead in the same poll last month. 

Braley’s bump is thanks to independent voters. In September, Ernst led the group by 7 percentage points, but now Braley leads among independents by 5 points. 

The poll also shows a “reverse gender gap,” as Braley’s lead among women grows, while Ernst’s lead among men widens.

Ernst’s overall edge though is within the poll’s 3-percentage-point margin of error, leaving the candidates neck-and-neck with just under three weeks until Election Day.

“The Iowa Senate race, which could be key to control of the U.S. Senate, is too close to call and will likely remain close all the way to Election Day,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll, said in a statement.

The poll also finds Gov. Terry Branstad (R) well ahead of his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Jack Hatch (D). Hatch has closed the gap slightly since last month, but Branstad still leads 54 percent to 39 percent among likely voters.

Voters also have a strong opinion of Branstad, who touts a 56 percent favorability rating.

“The big question in the governor’s race doesn’t involve who is going to win,” Brown said. “It’s how large will Gov. Terry Branstad’s margins be, and perhaps more significantly, will Gov. Branstad have coattails that might help Ernst across the finish line?”

This post was updated at 2:57 p.m.