Todd Akin Could Still Win The Missouri Senate Race

Despite the controversy that has enveloped his campaign since he made his controversial remarks about rape, and despite the fact that he was ostracized by the entire state and national Republican establishment in the wake of those remarks, there’s still a possibility that the Congressman could pull off a win in November. We’ve already seen signs of some Republicans, mostly social conservatives, returning to Akin’s side and helping with fundraising and such matters. And now, there are signs in the polls that this race is not going to be the cakewalk for Claire McCaskill that many, myself included, thought it was going to be after Akin’s disastrous August.

First, there’s a new poll from Rasmussen that has McCaskill’s lead down to six points:

The deadline has passed for embattled Congressman Todd Akin to withdraw from Missouri’s U.S. Senate race, and incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill has now crossed the 50% mark for the first time.

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Missouri Likely Voters shows McCaskill with 51% of the vote to Akin’s 45%. One percent (1%) prefers some other candidate, and three percent (3%) are undecided.

If you don’t trust Rasmussen, then you can find the same six point McCaskill lead from Public Policy Polling:

PPP’s newest poll of the Missouri Senate race finds Claire McCaskill expanding her lead to 6 points. She’s at 46% to 40% for Todd Akin and 9% for Libertarian Jonathan Dine. On our last poll of the race, in late August, McCaskill had led by only a single point.

Todd Akin’s image is not seeing any recovery even with six weeks having passed since his controversial comments. 33% of voters see him favorably to 55% with an unfavorable opinion. Those numbers are essentially unchanged from our last poll when he was at 33/56. Republicans still give him pretty high marks. 65% see him favorably to 23% with an unfavorable opinion, suggesting that they actually still like him and aren’t just voting for him grudgingly. But his reviews from independents (28/59) and Democrats (7/84) are pretty dreadful.

One interesting development over the last month in this race is that Claire McCaskill’s own popularity has actually improved. 44% of voters approve of her and 49% disapprove, up from a 40/55 spread in late August. The reason for that change is that Democrats are really rallying around her. She now has an 89/8 approval rating within her own party, up from a 73/23 standing last time. And that’s where the shift in the horse race is coming from as well. She now gets 91% of the Democratic vote, up from 81% on our previous poll. The numbers with Republicans and independents are pretty steady.

Despite McCaskill’s lead there’s still reason to think this will be a competitive race. By a 50/42 margin voters would rather Republicans had control of the US Senate next year than the Democrats. Right now Akin’s only winning 78% of the vote among people who wanted a GOP controlled Senate, compared to the 95% McCaskill’s getting with folks who want a Democratic controlled Senate. It’s possible as election day nears that more people who want the GOP in charge will suck it up and vote for Akin even though they don’t like him.

The other reason to think this race could still end up pretty close is who the 14% of voters either undecided or leaning toward voting for the Libertarian candidate are. They are overwhelmingly conservative voters, who support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama for President by a 66/9 margin. They’d like for the Republicans to be in charge of the Senate by a 65/14 spread. If these folks actually ended up voting for the candidate of the party they want in charge Akin would be up by one point. It’s not likely they’ll move en masse to Akin in that way, but it is possible and that’s why this race is still worth keeping an eye on.

This is actually an increase in support in the PPP poll for McCaskill because of that late August poll that showed the race essentially tied, but that poll was coming out at a time when other polls had McCaskill up by as much as nine or ten points, so there’s reason to think it may have been an outlier. The more interesting thing, of course, is that it came back with exactly the same number as the Rasmussen poll.

As six point lead is still a lead, of course, and I still tend to think that McCaskill will end up winning in November. However, as the PPP numbers show, there’s still a possibility that Akin could end up getting the votes of those people who want a Republican controlled Senate as well as benefiting from Mitt Romney’s coattails. Romney currently has a +5.2 lead in the RealClearPolitics Average for Missouri, while Akin trails McCaskill in their average by 2.3 points. Even though the national GOP is shunning him, a strong Romney victory could end up pulling Akin across the finish line.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. grumpy realist says:

    It’s things like this that make me despair for the U.S. You can’t run a top-notch country via the brains of religious fundamentalists. And we should know better than to elect them into positions of power.

  2. stonetools says:

    For what I hear, McCaskill is executing Part 2 of the Harry Reid re-election strategy- hitting Akin over the head with his crazy statements every chance she gets. More of that, and she’ll win.

    Just don’t let the voters forget that Akin is CRAZY. Execute the plan, no matter how unlady like she appears.

  3. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Is this surprising? After all this is the same chamber that houses Al Franken and until only recently Robert Byrd’s corpse, soon after which Byrd officially passed away. There have been drunkards in there (Kennedy, Tower), womanizers (Kennedy, Tower), criminals (Kennedy, Corzine), racists (Gore, Sr., Byrd, Stennis, Fulbright, etc.), plus all sorts of nuts and flakes. Harry Reid is Majority Leader. Not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.

    Plus it’s never wise to underestimate the extent to which Main Street voters are capable, hell, even inclined, completely to tune out the liberal media and the chattering classes.

    In any event, I’ve been known to be a very aggressive gambler, some might say reckless, but I wouldn’t bet on Akin. Dude is a walking political train wreck. By the same token, however, I wouldn’t bet on McCaskill. She’s not exactly sentient.

  4. legion says:

    Of course he _could_ still win – he’s been representing these people for a while now. He knows who they want & what they want to hear – that’s why he’s been doubling down on his insanity. The task for McCaskill is if she can convince them she can actually do the job better than Akin… just pointing out that Akin is a looney won’t change a thing in the votes.