The U.S. Senate race in Iowa is shaping up to be deeply competitive, a new poll finds, while former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) looks like less of a threat in his effort to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) and state Sen. Joni Ernst (R) are deadlocked at 43 percent in the race to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), according to an NBC/Marist poll released Wednesday. Fourteen percent of voters remain undecided, and the candidates still have room to make an impression -- while each had a modestly favorable rating among voters, a third haven't heard of or are unsure about Braley, and 28 percent say the same about Ernst.
Early polling this year put Braley ahead, but the race appears to have tightened. Three surveys taken directly after the state's June 3 primary gave Ernst leads of 1 to 6 percentage points, although a mid-June Quinnipiac University poll found Braley 4 points ahead. HuffPost Pollster's model, which incorporates all publicly available polling, finds the race tied.
The Senate race in New Hampshire has been more stable, with Shaheen leading Brown in virtually every survey taken. NBC/Marist finds Shaheen ahead 50 percent to 42 percent, with just 6 percent undecided. She's helped by a 52 percent favorability rating among voters, with 39 percent viewing her unfavorably, while views of Brown are split at 40 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable.
HuffPost Pollster's average gives Shaheen a 9-point lead over Brown.
A gender gap is present in both states, but it is far more pronounced in New Hampshire, where Shaheen leads by 25 points among female voters. Braley leads Ernst by 8 points among women.
As in Colorado and Michigan, where NBC/Marist also polled, there's little enthusiasm for either party at the national level. Voters in both states gave President Barack Obama an approval rating of less than 40 percent, and majorities disapproved of the Affordable Care Act -- but they had even less support for Republicans in Congress, giving them an approval rating of about 20 percent.
NBC/Marist surveyed 1,599 voters in Iowa and 1,342 in New Hampshire from July 7 to July 13, using live phone interviews to reach both landlines and cell phones.