Cook Political Report moves Missouri from "toss up" to "likely Democrat"; Update: Romney, Scott Walker call on Akin to quit

Maybe ObamaCare won’t be so bad, guys. A couple of tweaks to IPAB, a little fine-tuning of those state insurance exchanges, and who knows? We might be able to duct-tape this boondoggle together and keep it aloft for a decade or two. If anyone can make it work, it’s President Romney, right?

Jennifer Duffy of Cook waves bye-bye to the prospective 51st vote for repeal:

Ed and ConArtCritic, who analyzes polls for Ace’s site, argue persuasively that the PPP poll this morning showing Akin up by a point is essentially garbage, as it’s based on a ridiculously lopsided Republican sample. (PPP is Kos’s pollster; go figure that they’d churn out some encouragement for Akin to stay in the race at a decisive moment.) A more realistic turnout model in Missouri would have McCaskill up comfortably by six or seven points, and that’s before the Democratic ad machine, now fully loaded with disapproving quotes from Akin’s fellow Republicans, goes to work on him.

But it’s apparently useless trying to point this out to the candidate: Paul Ryan called Akin personally yesterday to vent his disapproval and, just as I’m writing this, with less than two hours before the withdrawal deadline expires, Romney has issued a statement flatly calling on Akin to quit the race. Problem is, there’s really nothing the party can offer him to make it worth his while to go. Read this short but smart piece at Salon listing the many reasons Akin has to keep going. He’s old; he’s still got a more or less 50/50 shot at the Senate; he may or may not think his primary victory was divinely ordained, etc etc etc. If he were a younger pol, the GOP leadership might be able to tempt him with the promise of some plum position down the road if he plays ball now. As it is, the one and only argument his critics have is to ask him to put conservatism first and step aside to maximize our chances of repealing ObamaCare. You can see from his Huckabee interview this afternoon how seriously he takes that argument. Charlie Crist’s still the most nakedly careerist politician I’ve ever seen, but you’ve got to hand it to Akin: Even Crist never put his own ambitions above his party’s top agenda items.

He can still quit after today’s deadline passes, but to do so he’ll need a court order. Can he get one? As Nate Silver notes, four of the six justices of the Missouri Supreme Court are Democratic appointees, and Akin has no stronger supporters in America right now when it comes to staying on the ballot than Democrats. Meanwhile, if Priebus and Cornyn are serious about withholding money from this guy in the assurance that conservatives will blame Akin for the eventual loss, not them, I think they’re kidding themselves. Once it’s clear that he’s in the race to the bitter end, the calculus among many of his critics will shift from “he’s a moron” to “he’s a moron but he’s our moron,” such that if the RNC and NRSC cut him off, the dreaded Beltway RINO establishment will be blamed for not having done everything they could to make the best of a bad hand. (That would be less likely if McCaskill utterly crushed him on election day, but she’s sufficiently weak that she probably won’t win by more than four or five points. He’ll be competitive, sort of, down the stretch.) Never mind that the money they save might prove critically useful elsewhere; once Akin proves he’s a “fighter,” willing to tell both Democrats and Republicans to go to hell, that’ll earn him a certain base of populist support that will demand financial support from GOP treasurers on his behalf. And if they don’t provide it, they’ll be scapegoated, not him.

We’re 80 minutes from the deadline as I write this. While we wait to see if today’s pledge not to quit holds, here’s Rush Limbaugh via the Daily Rushbo.

Update: Here’s the full Romney statement I mentioned earlier. Another very heavy hitter, Scott Walker, is also pushing with both hands:

Governor Scott Walker released the following statement today calling on U.S. Representative Todd Akin (R-MO) to remove himself from his U.S. Senate bid to unseat Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

“Representative Todd Akin’s comments were ignorant at best and completely outrageous. For the good of his state and for the good of his party, he should step aside immediately and allow someone else to run.”

Holding McCaskill’s seat is job one for Democrats, but obviously they want more out of Akingate. A lot more.