Will Iowa be the Democrats' midterm Waterloo?

“If the Democrats lose Iowa, of course it becomes much harder to keep the majority,” said one national Democratic strategist. “The race could very much go either way. We feel like the worst is behind us and it’s moving back towards Bruce Braley. But we know we don’t have this wrapped up.”

Braley’s biggest gaffe took place months ago, when video surfaced of the former trial lawyer criticizing Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as a “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.”

But Braley’s problems haven’t stopped there. A neighbor has claimed he threatened to sue because her chickens kept wandering in his yard, and Republicans have been hammering him for missing Veterans Affairs Committee hearings. In-state observers say he’s stiff and awkward at times on the campaign trail, while Ernst is better at retail politicking.

David Yepsen, a thirty-year veteran of the Des Moines Register who now directs the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, said Braley’s “farmer” gaffe “really redefined the race” and was “one of the biggest political stumbles I’ve ever seen.”