Missouri voters “chose” Akin? Not so much.
posted at 2:00 pm on August 22, 2012 by Libby Sternberg
Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Missouri, has pledged to stay in the race despite remarks about rape and abortion that are wildly inaccurate at best and horrifically insensitive at worst—or, as I believe, both. I won’t repeat them here as they’ve been widely circulated already. They represented the thoughts of a muddled and misinformed mind.
Akin seems to think that he should soldier on because the Republican voters of Missouri chose him above the other primary candidates to carry the GOP banner against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. On ABC’s Good Morning America, Akin said:
“The people of Missouri chose me to be their candidate. And I don’t believe it’s right for party bosses to decide to override those voters.”
The “party bosses” comment is risible. As Ed has pointed out on this blog, those calling for Akin to drop out of the race include a list of conservatives who’ve long argued for purer conservative stances than those espoused by party elders in the past. They’re not RINOS, in other words.
But Akin’s initial statement is just as off base—about being chosen by Missouri voters. That implies a groundswell of support, and the truth is at odds with that implication. Yes, he became the nominee, but he hardly has a mandate to lead the conservative charge in the Show-Me State.
Let’s examine the facts:
Six out of ten people actually voted against Todd Akin in the Missouri U.S. Senatorial primary. His primary opponents, John Brunner and Sarah Steelman, each pulled in around 30 percent of the vote to Akin’s 36 percent. Because the state doesn’t use run-off elections for winners with less than 50 percent of the vote, we’ll never know if Akin would have survived a head-to-head challenge.
However, a poll taken before the August 7 Missouri primary offers some interesting insights into Missouri Republicans’ preferences. According to a Mason-Dixon poll conducted July 23-25, 400 “likely Republican primary voters” responded this way to the question: If the Republican primary election for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat were held today, which one of the following candidates would get your vote:
John Brunner: 33 percent
Sarah Steelman: 27 percent
Todd Akin: 17 percent
When these top three candidates were placed in the poll head-to-head with incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, the results were just as telling:
John Brunner: 52 percent
Claire McCaskill: 41 percent
Sarah Steelman: 49 percent
Claire McCaskill: 41 percent
Todd Akin: 49 percent
Claire McCaskill: 44 percent
Note which of those three match-ups fares the poorest. Yes, it’s the one with the self-proclaimed Republican Messiah in it, Todd Akin.
And, to make matters worse, Akin loses to McCaskill among women, in the Mason-Dixon poll, while Brunner and Steelman beat McCaskill in that subset. Wonder how the women’s vote will swing today in Missouri?
Of course, new polls show…Akin’s lost ground since the Mason-Dixon pre-primary survey. An August 20 PPP poll showed he was pulling 44 percent of voters’ support to McCaskill’s 43 percent. So, while she’s holding about steady, he is sinking, even before the true effect of his ridiculous comments have had a chance to resonate.
Whatever Akin thinks party bosses want, it’s not clear at all that Missouri voters want him.
Libby Sternberg is a novelist.