GOP poll: Ernst leads in key Senate race
© Ernst for U.S. Senate

Iowa state Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate Farmers: New Trump ethanol proposal reneged on previous deal Overnight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate MORE (R) has a lead over Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce Lowell Braley2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster OPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP Ten years later, House Dems reunite and look forward MORE (D-Iowa) as they begin their general election battle, according to a new survey conducted by GOP pollster Vox Populi.

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Ernst leads Braley by 49 percent to 44 percent, a flip from pre-primary polling that had found Braley in the lead.

Her big primary win seems to have given Ernst a bump in the race, as did heavy spending by outside groups on her behalf. Her three primary opponents never hit hard against Ernst in the primary.

The race is one of a handful of battles that will determine Senate control. If Ernst can maintain her newfound lead, the GOP's chances of winning back the Senate increase greatly.

Partisan polls should always be taken with a grain of salt. But this poll is in line with the first nonpartisan public poll of the race, one conducted by Loras College that found her leading by 48 percent to 42 percent.

The automated poll of 667 active voters was conducted from June 4-5, the first days after the primary, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.