Todd Akin defied Republican bosses today and announced that he is staying in the Missouri Senate race, committing himself — at least for now — to a political kamikaze mission that could derail his party’s chances in November.
Until his “legitimate rape gaffe” Sunday, Akin was considered the favourite to win Missouri’s key Senate race, which Republicans have viewed as one of their best opportunities to gain control of the upper chamber this fall. Now, in the absence of support or cash from the national Republican Party and conservative outside spending groups, Akin is almost certain to lose his challenge to well-funded Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.
It is too early to determine what kind of ripple effect Akin’s decision will have for the rest of the ticket. But recent polling numbers out of Missouri indicate that President Barack Obama could be one of the biggest beneficiaries of Akin’s biology stumble.
The most recent poll, released by SurveyUSA on August 12, found that, although Missouri has been written off by most handicappers as Romney territory, the presidential race there is actually pretty tight, with Mitt Romney leading Obama by one point, 45 per cent to 44 per cent.
Both candidates maintain support among their respective party bases — Romney holds 88 per cent of Republicans, while Obama holds 85 per cent of Democrats — and split the independent vote, with moderates breaking 2-to-1 for Obama.
The poll also shows that Romney leads Obama among female voters, 46 per cent to 43 per cent. But 29 per cent of those women said that they have some reservations about their choice.
The numbers suggest that Obama could put Missouri back into play by winning over the support of women who are on the fence about Romney — incidentally, the same group of voters who are most likely to be insulted by Akin’s ignorant “rape” comments.
Although John McCain won Missouri by just one-tenth of a percentage point in 2008, the Obama campaign has largely written off the Show Me State in the 2012 election. But the possibility of putting Missouri’s 10-electoral college votes back in the swing column could give Obama an added advantage on an electoral map that already favours the incumbent.
Check out the map below:
Photo: Courtesy of 270towin.com
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