While Missouri is always a tough state for both parties in presidential elections, until recently Mitt Romney didn’t have much to worry about.  Rasmussen’s series of polls gave him a significant-if-not-quite-comfortable six-point margin in the Show Me State … at least until Todd Akin shared his views on the legitimacy of rape claims from pregnant victims.  In today’s Rasmussen poll, Romney now slightly trails Obama, 47/46:

As the controversy over Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment continues, Mitt Romney’s lead in Missouri has vanished.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Missouri Voters finds President Obama with 47% support to Romney’s 46%. Three percent (3%) favor some other candidate in the race, and three percent (3%) more are undecided.

At the end of July, it was Romney by six and he has been ahead in Missouri all year.

Missouri now moves from Leans Romney to a Toss-Up in the Rasmussen Reports Electoral College Projections.

This actually is better than what I thought the initial reaction would be.  Even with this sudden shift a few days after the Akin controversy broke (the survey was taken on Wednesday), Obama only leads among women by seven points, 51/44, while Romney leads among men by the same amount.  The sample has a 56/44 split between women and men, respectively, which accounts for the difference — and that significantly overstates the strength of women in comparison to the 2010 exit poll for Missouri, which had it at 51/49.

Otherwise, this looks about the same as it did in July.  In fact, Romney’s favorability has slightly increased since then, from 49/49 to 51/47.  He’s actually improved even more among women in that measure, going from 44/54 to 50/49.  The same is true to a greater degree with independents, going from 48/50 to 58/36, a large improvement.  These are the two demos most likely to reflect damage on Romney’s candidacy, and so far they both look good.

In looking at it the other direction, there isn’t much corresponding improvement for Obama.  His job approval rating in July was 45/54, bouncing back a little this month to just 48/49 — but with 42% strongly disapproving, and only 26% strongly approving.  Among women, his approval rating didn’t change much at all, going from 52/47 to 53/45, while among independents, it went from 41/59 to a dismal 34/60.

I’m guessing that the overall shift in preference is an artifact of this poll coming so closely on the heels of the controversy, which gave respondents an opportunity to register their displeasure with Akin.  When the storm passes, as it will with the convention, the fundamentals of the candidates will once again take hold and push the race back to the pre-Akin status quo — a movement that would be enhanced by Akin’s departure, of course.