Akin plummets in poll, now trails McCaskill by 9

By Jonathan Terbush
Sunday, August 26, 2012 11:50 EDT
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Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) apologizes for comments he made about "legitimate rape." Photo: Screenshot via YouTube.
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After a week-long firestorm surrounding his comments about “legitimate rape,” Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-MO) campaign suffered another blow this weekend as a new poll of the Missouri Senate race found him now trailing Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) by nine percentage points.

One month ago, the same pollster showed Akin with a five point lead in his bid to unseat McCaskill, meaning he has slipped nearly 15 points overall in the last month, with most of that likely attributable to the fallout from his remarks that were almost universally criticized by politicians and pundits from both parties.

According to the poll, which was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, McCaskill now leads 50 to 41 among likely voters. Late last month, before the Republican primary, Akin led a hypothetical matchup with McCaskill 49-44.

The same poll found that over half of all likely voters, fifty-six percent, now have an unfavorable opinion of Akin, an enormous spike from the eleven percent who said the same in July. In addition, two-thirds of independent voters said in the poll that Akin should drop out of the race.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Akin’s standing with female voters has suffered dramatically since his remarks. In July, women were split evenly between supporting him McCaskill. In the most recent survey, women backed McCaskill by a nearly 20-point margin, 55 percent to 37 percent.

One week ago, Akin said in an interview with a Missouri television station that, from his understanding, victims of “legitimate rape,” rarely get pregnant because their bodies have an innate ability to prevent that from happening. Soon after, Democrats and Republicans alike blasted those remarks as terribly offensive and scientifically baseless. President Obama even held an impromptu press conference at which he blasted the Representative and asserted that, “rape is rape.”

McCaskill was seen as one of the weakest Democratic incumbents in the Senate heading in 2012, and Republicans had hoped picking her off would help them reclaim control of Congress’ higher chamber. However, since Akin’s rape comment, many top Republicans—including Mitt Romney—have explicitly called on him to get out of the race. Akin has apologized and said he misspoke, but has also refused to drop out.

Jonathan Terbush
Jonathan Terbush
Jon Terbush is a Boston-based writer whose work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider, the New Haven Register, and elsewhere. He tweets about politics, cats, and baseball via @jonterbush.
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