Should Republicans throw another log on the 2014 bonfire? Perhaps they should, given recent events in Iowa.

In this July 18, 2012 photo, a cow on Kevin Heiserman's Rowley farm feed on hay near Rowley, Iowa. Heiserman started feeding hay three weeks ago, several weeks earlier than he has in the past, due to the dry pasture. Widespread drought in the U.S. has forced ranchers to sell off animals, leading to the fewest cattle in at least four decades. (AP Photo/The Gazette, Liz Martin) MAGS OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, TV OUT A cow on Kevin Heiserman’s Rowley farm feeds on hay near Rowley, Iowa. (Liz Martin/Associated Press/The Gazette)

Recall that the GOP hasn’t been able to field a big-name candidate there for the election to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Most GOP insiders therefore put the race as a longer shot than others (Arkansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, Montana, North Carolina, Alaska, Colorado, etc.).

Then Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley got caught on tape at a fundraiser disparaging incumbent Senator Chuck Grassley and – cringe! – farmers: “If you help me win this race you may have someone with your background, your experience, your voice, someone who’s been literally fighting tort reform for thirty years, in a visible or public way, on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Or, you might have a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school, never practiced law, serving as the next chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.” Republicans are calling it the Democrats’ Todd Akin moment, after the GOP Senate candidate from Missouri who blew the race with a horrendous comment about rape, abortion and God (a terrible combination for any politician to discuss).

Now the National Republican Senatorial Committee has swung into action, the Des Moines Register reports: “Hundreds of thousands of Iowans will soon get robocalls accusing Democrat Bruce Braley of ‘insulting Iowa farmers.’ Operatives with the National Republican Senatorial Committee are launching the calls in Iowa on Thursday – to 305,000 households, organizers told The Des Moines Register. They will targeting all voters, regardless of party affiliation or vote history, who either live in rural counties, have a farm occupation or have been identified as being interested in farm issues.” Longtime Iowa Republican operative Tim Albrecht tweeted that the NRSC’s operation was evidence the “ground has shifted.”

In fact, Braley didn’t have a very commanding lead even before insulting the state’s most revered profession. He had only a nine-point lead over GOP businessman Mark Jacobs and a 13-point lead over state Sen. Jodi Ernst. Until now a number of GOP insiders had favored Mark Jacobs, in no small part because he could self-fund. However, his ads haven’t moved polling numbers.

Ernst got the endorsement of Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, and has gotten good reviews from experienced Iowa Republicans. Ernst’s ad touting her beginnings on the farm “castrating hogs” was a smash and positions her as perfectly against Braley as one can be. She previously hasn’t been able to raise money, but Braley’s gaffe and her head-snapping ad may change that.

So put another log on the fire (another pig on the spit?) — at the very least the Democrats have yet another state to worry about.