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August 29, 2014 5:35 PM When the Happy Talk Stops

By Ed Kilgore

I read the The Iowa Republican website pretty often since you just can’t get too much Iowa political news, and I’m familiar enough with the site and its writers to skip the agitprop and the puerile smears of Commie Tommy Harkin and Liberal Trial Lawyer (Trial Lawyer! Trial Lawyer!) Bruce Braley.

Today TIR features a piece from site proprietor Craig Robinson that should throw some cold water on that big happy parade the Joni Ernst for Senate campaign has become. If you’ve been following the race, you undoubtedly know Ernst has deployed a couple of highly effective ad themes—one positive theme involving her fine hog castratin’ skills, and one negative theme involving Braley’s alleged disdain for farmers (both Chuck Grassley and a neighbor raising chickens). Meanwhile, Team Braley has begun focusing on something Ernst’s ads never mention: her positions on various controversial issues. Robinson looks at a new poll and see signs Ernst better get serious:

To date, the Ernst campaign has gotten a lot of mileage out of running a personality based campaign against Braley, but if these latest polls are accurate, that strategy has already run out of gas. Even if the race remains close until Election Day, Republicans have to worry that the Democrats early voting advantage might be big enough to deliver the victory for Braley.
While it is still early, absentee request by Democrats and no party voters are far exceeding Republican requests. This is once again a sign that Democrats are working their absentee program that has often times made the difference in close legislative races. If the U.S. Senate race remains a close contest, their ability to get no party voters to vote early for their candidates could make a big difference.

When a guy like Robinson feels the need to go public in criticizing a Republican campaign, you have to figure (a) he’s not alone in his criticisms, and (b) private complaints are having no effect. At some point, even partisan warriors get sick of the happy talk when they see a campaign in trouble. We’ll see if the Ernst campaign pays attention, or instead keeps using its money for dumb and superficial ads.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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