I’ve said a few times that we won’t know the answer to whether Missouri Rep. Todd Akin stays in the Missouri senate race until after Labor Day. Once the initial outrage over his offensive remarks about rape victims have had a chance to fade in the public’s memory, a new poll will come out to gauge how the voters still feel about him. If he’s continuing to trail Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, especially by the margin he was behind in the last poll, I predict he will begin the court proceedings to drop out, and a new candidate will be found. If the race is competitive again, the Republican support (and money) will quietly but inevitably return.
Now, less than two weeks after the incident, a poll is out showing that Akin has regained his lead, now with 45 percent support to McCaskill’s 42. According to the polling firm, Wenzel Strategies:
Despite the firestorm of news in the Senate race over the past few weeks, most voters have already made up their mind in the race, the survey shows. The fact that 80% said they were firm in their choice certainly indicates that this is a race that will be decided more by ideology and turnout efforts by the campaigns and less by breaking news that flashes across the news pages and cable news channels. Overall, just 12% said they could change their minds before they vote, and 8% said they were very open to changing their minds before they cast their ballots.
But is the poll unbiased? The group was hired by Family Research Council, one of the handful “traditional values” political action groups offering its continued full-fledged support of Akin. FRC PAC Chairman Tony Perkins stated in regards to his PAC’s poll that:
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This polling shows that Missouri voters are returning to the substance of this race and the clear contrast of records between Todd Akin and Claire McCaskill. Throughout his career, Todd Akin has consistently fought for legislation that honors marriage, human life, religious freedom, and national security. He also has a long record of opposing the commodification of women–in stark contrast to his opponent and liberal detractors, who promote groups like Planned Parenthood while ignoring how abortion harms them.
The poll may be a true representation of the voters in Missouri. Or it may be a biased result meant to encourage the GOP to return resources to Akin and not abandon the Missouri race, especially in the wake of the National Republican Senatorial Committee announcing it would pull its funding from Missouri to use in North Dakota instead. In either case, it is a sign that the race is no where near settled in Missouri.