Election 2014: the most competitive Senate races

The Democrats face a challenge in their quest to hold onto the US Senate. Eleven races this year are seen as competitive – eight seats held by Democrats, three by Republicans. Here’s the rundown.

9. Iowa: Tom Harkin (D), retiring

Charlie Neibergall/AP
Rep. Bruce Braley (D) of Iowa talks with area farmers as he tours the East Central Iowa Co-Op in Cedar Falls, Iowa., Oct. 21, 2013.

[Updated Oct. 26] Iowa is a swing state, which makes the open-seat race competitive. The Democrats cleared their field early with Rep. Bruce Braley. State Sen. Joni Ernst burst through a crowded Republican field to win her primary, after running viral ads that touted her skill castrating hogs, shooting weapons, and riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle. She’s also an Iraq war vet.

State Senator Ernst’s convincing primary win on June 3 with 56 percent of the vote allowed her to skip a runoff and pivot right to the general election.

Early in the primary campaign, Representative Braley was caught on video saying that a lawyer like him is better suited to serve on the Judiciary Committee than “an Iowa farmer” like Sen. Charles Grassley (R). Braley apologized, but the video is fodder for ads.

Ernst has the momentum. Cook and Rothenberg call the race a tossup. Sabato calls it lean Republican. 

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