Family Research Council poll of Missouri: Akin 45, McCaskill 42

Given that they’re among his biggest (i.e. few) supporters, this is roughly as credible as an internal poll. But since we’re in a holding pattern news-wise until Ryanpalooza erupts at the convention tonight, let’s toss it out there.

I don’t remotely believe that Akin is winning right now, but I also don’t believe that McCaskill’s double-digit margin will survive September. Hence Reince Priebus’s conundrum.

That’s not to say Akin hasn’t sustained damage: his personal image is weak, with 44 percent of voters having a favorable impression of him and 50 percent having an unfavorable impression. But he still leads McCaskill by 10 points among independent voters and in the conservative-leaning state, Akin wins about the same percentage of Republicans (78 percent) that McCaskill wins among Democrats (82 percent.)…

“Despite the firestorm of news in the Senate race over the past few weeks, most voters have already made up their mind in the race, the survey shows,” [pollster Fritz] Wenzel writes. “The fact that 80% said they were firm in their choice certainly indicates that this is a race that will be decided more by ideology and turnout efforts by the campaigns and less by breaking news that flashes across the news pages and cable news channels.”…

The Family Research Council poll was conducted by Wenzel Strategies from Aug. 27 to Aug. 28, testing 829 voters for a margin of error of plus or minus 3.38 percent. The sample was 32.7 percent Democrats, 34.1 percent Republicans and 33.2 percent independents.

Missouri must be a tough state for political pros to predict turnout. Four years ago, with Hopenchange fee-vah running wild, it was D+6; eight years ago, for Bush vs. Kerry, it was R+1. Romney should win the state comfortably this time regardless, but I wonder if Akin’s hurt himself just enough with Republicans to suppress turnout to the point where it’s fatal to his chances. If he’d kept his mouth shut, maybe he’d have been looking at R+2 for his race. As it is, who knows? R+1? Even?

Meanwhile, the effort to replace him continues apace — quietly:

[S]ources close to Akin acknowledge that he is monitoring developments in the race, including campaign donations and his standing in the polls, and that it isn’t out of the question he will change his mind.

Should Akin decide that his sliding poll numbers — he now trails McCaskill by ten points and many of his own supporters want him to exit the race — dictate dropping out, he will certainly want a say in who replaces him. John Brunner, a wealthy businessman, and Sarah Steelman, a former state treasurer, both challenged him in the GOP primary and are viewed as unacceptable by Akin forces. On the other hand, Wagner is respected in the Akin camp and a sufficiently conservative presence to satisfy Tea Party members who are suspicious of anyone the Missouri GOP establishment might anoint…

“It’s clunky, but it would work so long as it doesn’t look like a back-room deal,” one Akin supporter who is a Missouri delegate told me. “Todd would be treated with dignity and could go back to the House and we would have a candidate with very strong skills who could beat McCaskill.”

Roy Blunt also said this morning that he still thinks Akin will quit, but I’m not sure he himself quite believes it. Supposedly people are leaning on Huckabee too to get him to change his mind and nudge Akin towards the exit. I don’t think that’s out of the question, actually: Huckabee may be framing this as a “Mount Carmel moment” now, but if the polls still look awful for Akin in two weeks, he’s going to get nervous about being held responsible for almost singlehandedly propping this guy up on the way to defeat. That’d be a major black mark on his record ahead of 2016, and he’s already got enough of those (the latest being his endorsement of Dewhurst over Cruz). That’s what this FRC poll is all about, I assume — reassuring social conservatives who might be wavering in light of the recent gruesome polls from Missouri that Akin’s hanging in there.

Two new ads for you below, one from the man himself and one from the Susan B. Anthony List that’s set to run in Missouri. Reminds me a bit of Romney’s Medicare strategy after picking Ryan: Now that the conversation has changed, the best defense is a good offense.