Todd Akin Within One Point Of Claire McCaskill In New Poll

A new poll out of Missouri from Public Policy Polling shows a much tighter race than many had thought we’d see in the wake of Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments last week and his abandonment by pretty much the entire Republican and conservative establishment:

PPP’s newest poll of the Missouri Senate race finds that Todd Akin is weathering the storm and the contest remains a toss up. Claire McCaskill leads 45-44, just a small change from our poll last week which found Akin ahead by a 44-43 margin.

A few key findings related to Akin’s candidacy:

-53% of voters say that they accept Akin’s apology for his comments last week to 40% who do not. For most Missourians Akin’s words weren’t a permanent deal breaker. Although Democrats are not ready to forgive him, 77% of Republicans say they accept his apology to only 18% who do not.

-Only 37% of voters now say they think Akin should withdraw from the race to 54% who believe he should not. There’s a bipartisan consensus that he should stay in- 57% of independents, 53% of Democrats, and 52% of Republicans think he should continue running. There’s clearly a disconnect on Akin’s candidacy between GOP leaders in Washington DC and actual GOP voters back in Missouri.

-Akin’s favorability numbers are still poor with 33% of voters rating him favorably to 56% with a negative opinion. But that’s up a net 11 points from our survey last Monday when it came down at 24/58. A lot of voters have already moved on from being disgusted with him over his comments.

One thing this whole episode hasn’t done is soften voters’ opinions of Claire McCaskill. Only 40% of voters approve of the job she’s doing to 55% who disapprove. Even though 32% of Republicans have an unfavorable opinion of Akin, only 11% of them actually say that they’re going to vote for McCaskill. For many voters that don’t care for Akin, he is still seen as the lesser of two evils. McCaskill has at least pulled into the lead with independent voters this round at 45-38.

This poll comes on the heels of another poll that showed Akin leading McCaskill by three points. However, since that poll was commissioned by the Family Research Council, many people discounted it. As far as the PPP poll goes, it’s worth noting that Akin does underperform Mitt Romney in the state and, as noted his unfavorable numbers remain fairly high. Additionally, there are those polls from Rasmussen and Mason-Dixon that had McCaskill with a far more comfortable lead in the Show Me State. So, it’s hard to tell what’s going on here. It’s possible that PPP has a bad sample here, but then it’s also possible that other polling organizations aren’t looking at the state correctly and PPP is the one that’s right. One thing that this does seem to indicate, though, is that the antipathy in Missouri for Claire McCaskill is still fairly strong and that this controversy hasn’t really helped her make up that lost ground. The best evidence of that would be the fact that even in the Rasmussen and Mason-Dixon polls, McCaskill is polling below 50% in one and just at 50% in the other, and that’s with only about 10 weeks to go before Election Day. What that suggests is that Senator McCaskill is going to have to do more than just spend the time between now and Election Day attacking Todd Akin.

The exit question that all of this leads to is whether Republican groups might walk back their decision t pull money out of Akin’s campaign if it appears that the race is as close as PPP seems to suggest that it is. Earlier this week, Reince Preibus reiterated that no RNC money would be going to the state on Akin’s behalf and the general sentiment toward Akin among delegates seems to be an overwhelming desire that he drop out. However, if it turns out that the race in Missouri is still competitive would the GOP really ignore it and risk possibly losing the fight for control of the Senate?

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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. Jen says:

    The only thing that surprises me here is how quickly it got close.

    So, how does the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee get money to Akin after they’ve vowed “not to spend a dime” on his race?

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Theoretically this could be a bait and switch by PPP (a Democrat firm), but that’s a bit too spooky and Machiavellian really to believe. Also, since PPP oversamples Democrats that poll might be understating Akin’s support.

    But that all aside here’s the key point: Never underestimate the ability of Zombieland completely to tune out the chattering classes. Sure, of course, every liberal political junkie in Tribeca and New Caanan and most conservatives on talk radio and the Internet believed only days ago that Akin irrevocably was toast and the latter group were shouting that Akin should drop out of the contest, blah, blah, blah. That doesn’t mean people in Missouri think the same. Elections are decided by the people who vote in them, not by pundits.

    Personally speaking, I wouldn’t bet on Akin to win this contest. But by the same token I sure as hell wouldn’t bet on McCaskill.

  3. Rob in CT says:

    As expected, it hurt him but not enough to lose. Not enough people pay attention, and not enough of those that do find what he said problematic (enough to override other concerns).

    Which I find sad, but there you go.

  4. Stonetools says:

    McCaskill was an early supporter of the black Kenyan Muslim usurper who wants to take the hard earned money of ” real Americans” and give it to ” those people” which are of course really ” his people”. Missourians haven’t forgotten that and will be inclined to overlook Akin’s strange ideas about female biology.
    McCaskill has to do what Harry Reid did with Angle and pound it over and over into the heads of Missouri voters that Akin is CRAZY. It’s not clear she has the stomach to do that. She has been pretty quiet since the weekend of Akin’s ” legitimate rape” statements.

  5. grumpy realist says:

    We’ve still got a lot of Republicans supporting Akin because he’s “a good Christian man.” Since most of them probably don’t believe in evolution or a world older than 4000 years old, his total ignorance of female biology doesn’t even cause a ripple on the surface of their minds.

  6. Rick Almeida says:

    All of Political Science is shocked, shocked by this development.

  7. al-Ameda says:

    I am shocked that Missouri, home state of Rush Limbaugh, still strongly supports Todd Akin.

    I think it’s shocking that Claire McCaskill is even up with Todd Akin. Even with the “legitimate rape” stuff I figured that Akin would cruise to victory.

  8. @Stonetools:

    She has been pretty quiet since the weekend of Akin’s ” legitimate rape” statements.

    No, this is a good move on her part. Most people aren’t paying attention yet, and this is the sort of issue you want to slow play, so the story stays “what Akin said” rather than “McCaskill’s reliance on what Akin said”.

  9. Rick Almeida says:


    McCaskill has to do what Harry Reid did with Angle and pound it over and over into the heads of Missouri voters that Akin is CRAZY.

    I disagree entirely. McCaskill’s support is Missouri is neither deep nor broad – until this whole flap, she was expected to lose her seat pretty handily. She’s doing something pretty smart, in my opinion: not going bats$%t crazy about the comments, fundraising, and rather quietly trying to chip away at more moderate voters who might find Akin’s comments a deal-breaker.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Now that is the Missouri I know and hate!

  11. michael reynolds says:

    Told you so right from the start. I predicted he’d win. Republicans are morons. They’ll rally behind a moron.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @michael reynolds: There you go again Michael, talking to my neighbors