Missouri Senate Race Update: Claire McCaskill vs. Todd Akin
Given what's come out of the mouth of Rep. Todd Akin (R) in the last couple months, casual observers might assume he no longer stands a chance anymore to oust incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) from her Missouri Senate seat.
They would be wrong.
A poll released by We Ask America on Oct. 2 shows McCaskill had a lead of less than a percentage point over Akin, 46 to 45.2; that's less than the margin of error, with 8.8 percent of voters undecided. However, Public Policy Polling numbers show McCaskill up, 46 to 40, with 9 percent for Libertarian Jonathan Dine and 5 percent undecided.
Akin made a reference to "legitimate rape" in August and said McCaskill wasn't very "ladylike" in their debate a couple weeks ago, but residents seem to be forgiving in this traditionally conservative state.
Akin's remarks aside, McCaskill has every advantage in fundraising and outside spending. Compared to Akin's $2.2 million raised and spent this election season, McCaskill has jumped far ahead, raising $12.5 million and spending $9.2 million of it as of June 30, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Show Me State isn't solely responsible for the fundraising gap. McCaskill received 57 percent of her campaign dollars from out-of-state donors. Her top donors include residents of New York, Texas and California.
In terms of outside spending, liberal Majority PAC leads the way -- spending almost $2 million on the Senate race -- while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is a distant second, spending $930,000.
Particularly after Akin's comment that "legitimate rape" rarely leads to pregnancy, McCaskill has been on the offensive, as seen in the candidates' first debate on Sept. 21. She hit the ground running, calling her opponent's views "extreme" and "far out on the fringe" compared to what she described as her moderate views.
Not surprisingly, her attacks brought complaints from Akin when he told The Kansas City Star that he believes she feels threatened: "[S]he had a confidence and was much more ladylike (in 2006), but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging."
But Akin is on a mission to unseat his Democratic opponent. Although he has been forced to spend much of his time removing his foot from his mouth, he's called attention to her voting record, which he argues is contrary to Missouri's best interests.
The six-term congressman had received 81 percent of his funding from Missourians through the first half of 2012, with his most productive metropolitan area being St. Louis -- where his congressional district lies. He also received 15 percent of his funding from PACs -- compared to McCaskill's 20 percent -- with most of his support flowing from business and ideological groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics' research.
Former Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) also extended his support for Akin, and members of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a pro-tea party group run by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) contributed almost $300,000 to his campaign.That's the most financial support he's received since the "legitimate rape" remark, according to USA Today.
As conservatives make their final push to elect a Republican-controlled Senate in November, the National Republican Senatorial Committee reaffirmed its support for Akin after distancing itself from him in August; at that time, Akin refused to quit the race despite entreaties from many fellow GOP-ers.
Akin may have the last laugh. But that may not be known until election night because, as the numbers show, this Senate seat is still up for grabs.
Images: Sen. Claire McCaskill, from Sen. McCaskill via flickr; Rep. Todd Akin, from United States Congress via Wikipedia.