Final deadline passes: Todd Akin now officially on the ballot in Missouri

August 21 was the deadline for him to drop out and be replaced by another candidate without needing court approval. He passed. Today was the deadline to drop out with court approval, before the ballots are printed, which makes it effectively the last chance. Another pass.

If you want McCaskill out, this is now the only game in town:

With the deadline for him to exit the race just hours away, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) reaffirmed his commitment to staying in the race, saying that he has “one purpose going into November, and that’s replacing Claire McCaskill.”

Akin said he’d be staying in because Missouri voters — both in nominating him and in conversations he’s had while traveling the state — said they wanted him as their nominee.

“You are mainstream Missouri. We want you, Congressman Akin, as our senator, and particularly we want you now because we know that people can’t buy you and that you’re going to stand up for this state and this country and not be bought by any special-interest group,” he said people have told him, at a press conference on Tuesday.

Said one Missouri GOP strategist, “God has spoken: Todd is running.” Daily Kos’s pollster, PPP, took heat when it released a poll shortly after the “legitimate rape” comments that showed Akin within a point of McCaskill despite the backlash; the theory was that they were trying to encourage him to stay in the race, knowing that he’d be easier to beat than some other Republican. For what it’s worth, though, here’s what they said this afternoon on decision day:

Rasmussen had McCaskill by six as of two weeks ago, but there are two big X factors in play. One: McCaskill’s been holding back to some extent on hammering him with the “legitimate rape” stuff for fear of driving down his numbers to the point that he’d quit the race. Now that he’s locked in, she can stop holding back. And lo and behold, here’s a massive oppo dump and new campaign ad released just this afternoon. The next round of polls will be interesting.

Two: Conservative groups have been holding back on donating to him in hopes that starving him of money would kill his campaign before the deadline. Akin’s bet all along was that they were bluffing — and it looks like he was right. Jim DeMint’s PAC issued a statement today noting that “circumstances have changed” now that the deadline’s passed. Newt Gingrich, who’s been out in front lately in stumping for Akin, predicted yesterday that by mid-October all the major Republican groups will be kicking in. Reince Priebus swore last month that the RNC wouldn’t give him a penny even if the race is tied, but given the GOP’s fortunes in Senate polling lately, there’s simply no way RP will let an opportunity pass. (The way the Bill Nelson/Connie Mack race is shaping up in Florida, Akin may well end up getting some of the money earmarked for Mack.) Thanks to Missouri’s red trend, McCaskill’s mediocrity, and troubles elsewhere, this seat may still end up being one of the best pick-up opportunities for the GOP, notwithstanding the “legitimate rape” kerfuffle. Go figure.