Todd Akin: I'm staying in because we've paid too much attention to politics and not enough to principle

Via Mediaite, the money line comes at 3:55. I’m not sure which principle he means. Presumably he’s referring to respecting the will of primary voters, but in this case those voters went to the polls without knowing yet that he’d quickly become unelectably toxic. Maybe he means the principle of putting your own electoral ambitions above the conservative movement’s desperate, years-long drive to roll back ObamaCare? Or is it the principle of being able to say anything, no matter how hugely damaging it is to your own candidacy and potentially even the GOP ticket, and have your ideological allies circle the wagons on your behalf? If you can figure out the principle at stake, apart from ensuring the viability of left-wing health-care “reforms” for years to come, let me know.

One thing I’ll say for Akin: His decision here is entirely rational in the truest sense of that word. He’s acting logically according to his own self-interest. If he wins, he’s the comeback kid and a U.S. Senator. If he loses, he’s a martyr to social conservative leaders like Huckabee who are now backing him and who seem convinced that the truly troubling element in all this is that the GOP “establishment” (which in this case includes most of the grassroots, including the Tea Party Express) would abandon a guy who’s about to fumble away an easily winnable seat. Here’s a safe bet: If, as expected, Akin ends up losing badly to McCaskill, not one of his current allies will offer a “gee, I guess that rape comment hurt him more than we thought” mea culpa. Instead his loss will be blamed on the RINOs who snatched defeat from the jaws of glorious victory by moving to politically quarantine this guy before he could drag Romney and Ryan down with him. Ace is already hearing from this crowd, in fact, enough so that he’s gone ahead and posted a public apology for sinking poor Todd Akin’s chances by professing public skepticism about him. At least one person’s willing to acknowledge his mistakes.

Speaking of which, Nate Silver notes that the two splashy polls of Missouri taken this week had very different results but one important thing in common: The number of Republicans who intend to vote for Akin right now is dramatically lower than the number of Democrats who intend to vote for McCaskill. Some of that is surely a byproduct of hard feelings among Brunner and Steelman supporters after a tough three-way primary, but no one knows how much. If there’s some chunk of Republicans in Missouri who plan on sitting this race out in disgust, then it’s not just Akin who’s in trouble there. Potentially, it’s Romney too.