I’m surprised the race is this close, though I suspect it won’t be for long. Via Rasmussen Reports:
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. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Is there anyone on the planet, other than Todd Akin, who didn’t see this comimg?
Update: (h/t TT) More poll analysis from Rasmussen:
Akin led McCaskill by three before winning the Republican Primary. Normally, a candidate would increase their lead after winning a competitive primary. However, the latest results move a seat that had once been leaning in the Republican direction to Safe Democrat in the Rasmussen Reports Senate Balance of Power rankings.
Notably, 13% of Republicans now prefer a third party candidate as do 14% of unaffiliated voters. Among Democrats, none now favor a third party option and Democratic support for McCaskill has solidified. She now earns 96% of the vote from her party. Only 70% of Republicans would vote for the current nominee of their party. That’s down from 86% earlier.
Akin was the favorite in the race until he told a television interviewer on Sunday that in cases of "legitimate rape," women’s reproductive systems shut down to prevent pregnancy. The resulting uproar has prompted Mitt Romney and other leading Republicans to call for Akin to step down as the party’s Senate candidate in Missouri. So far he has refused to do so.
Forty-seven percent (47%) of the state’s voters have a Very Unfavorable opinion of Akin today. That’s up from 22% before the primary.
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.
To sum up Missouri has gone from "Lean Republican" to "Safe Democrat", the percentage of Missourians who view Akin very unfavorable has skyrocketed 25 points to 47%, Republicans want him out, and Democrats want him in. Shocking that.
Update II: Ed Morrissey discusses how weak a candidate McCaskill remains, and how winnable this race could be for Republicans if Akin comes to his senses and exits the race:
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.
The Republicans can still flip this seat and retire Mccaskill. But to do so Akin needs to get out with alacrity so the GOP can replace him with a quality candidate like Sarah Steelman.