In Iowa, state senator and national guard lieutenant colonel Joni Ernst clobbered her opposition, taking 56 percent of the vote. Her once formidable opponent, Mark Jacobs, finished third with only 17 percent of the vote, just behind the second place finisher’s 18 percent.

State Sen. Joni Ernst speaks to supporters at a primary election night rally after winning the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate, Tuesday, June 3, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa. The 43-year-old Ernst won the nomination over five candidates. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
State Sen. Joni Ernst speaks to supporters at a primary election night rally after winning the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Iowa. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

Like Ben Sasse in Nebraska, Ernst corralled support from establishment politicians like Mitt Romney as well as from tea party groups. Her feisty ads (one referencing her experience on the farm castrating hogs) positioned her well when her Democratic opponent, Bruce Braley, blundered in criticizing the Sen. Chuck Grassley and farmers more generally while boasting of his trial lawyer credentials.

She now leads in two post-election polls by 1 percent and 6.5 percent against Braley, who continues to stumble. His latest gaffe, the Des Moines Register explained, was an ad:

Braley, a U.S. Senate candidate, released a negative ad on Wednesday, the day after Republican Joni Ernst won the five-way race for her party’s nomination.

In the 30-second TV ad, called “Peep,” Braley shows footage of a chick and criticizes Ernst. The ad says she’s campaigning as a budget cutter, but when she “had the chance to do something in Iowa, we didn’t hear a peep. In the state Senate, Ernst never sponsored a bill to cut pork. Never wrote one measure to slash spending.”

Iowa politics watcher Timothy Hagle, a University of Iowa political science professor, tweeted Wednesday: “Imagine if a GOP candidate had used a ‘chick’ in an ad against a female opponent.”

The ad also happened to be “mostly false” according to a local media fact checker.

Ernst will be under intense pressure in the weeks and months to follow. She will need to present a positive agenda and avoid policy missteps (as she did when she both supported state control over gay marriage and said she favored a federal anti-gay marriage measure) . But for now she is riding high and has put another seat in play, which if captured by the GOP, may make it impossible for the Democrats to keep the Senate. For a boffo primary campaign and bringing together all segments of the Iowa GOP, we can say well done, Ms. Ernst.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.