You knew this was coming, right? Oh, our Akin electoral hopes for Republican control of the Senate:
What a difference one TV interview can make. Embattled Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill has now jumped to a 10-point lead over her Republican challenger, Congressman Todd Akin, in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race. Most Missouri Republicans want Akin to quit the race while most Missouri Democrats want him to stay.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the Show Me State finds McCaskill earning 48% support to Akin’s 38%. Nine percent (9%) like some other candidate in the race, and five percent (5%) are undecided.
Don’t forget that Rasmussen had Akin edging McCaskill by three before the primary — the weakest of the three Republican candidates, but still a formidable challenger to the Democratic incumbent. Another pollster had Akin up by ten before the Republican nominee offered up his disastrous analysis of rape-repelling uteri and questioning whether a pregnant woman could legitimately claim she’d been raped. Not surprisingly, more than a few Missouri voters found this nonsense to be disqualifying.
However, let’s not be too rash. A number of Missouri voters want Akin to stay in the race. Hey, they’re mostly Democrats, but at this point, Akin can’t afford to be choosy:
Forty-one percent (41%) say Akin should withdraw from the campaign and have Republicans select another candidate to run against McCaskill. But just as many (42%) disagree and say Akin should not quit the race. The partisan divide reveals voter understanding of the underlying dynamics. Most Republicans (53%) think he should quit; most Democrats (56%) do not, and unaffiliated voters are evenly divided.
Amazingly, the internals actually look a little better for Akin than one might expect. Independents split between Akin and McCaskill, 39/39, despite Akin’s faux pas. Akin has a one-point lead among men (45/44), but unsurprisingly gets buried among women, 32/52. There is some support for the argument that this is as bad as it gets, with 93% having followed the Akin controversy either very or somewhat closely. On the other hand, Akin’s favorability has cratered to 35/63, which makes it difficult to argue that he’s going to pick up much more than 38% of the vote, at least where the race stands now.
Claire McCaskill is undoubtedly doing a happy dance with this poll, but this isn’t good news for her, either. Despite being the other binary choice in a race against someone who questioned the legitimacy of rape victims, McCaskill only gets 48% — not even a majority. Her favorability rating is a zero, 48/48, with almost twice as many people rating her very unfavorable as very favorable (19/36). While she has solidified Democratic support (96%) against Akin, drawing only 39% of independents in a two-way race with Akin on the ticket is a stunningly bad performance. This shows just how much Republicans might gain if Akin can get out of the way and allow a better candidate to square off against a clearly unimpressive incumbent.