There is probably one main reasons why Rep. Todd Akin is still refusing to bow to the collective pressure of the Republican party to drop out of the Missouri Senate race: he thinks he can still win. New polling by PPP shows that is not a completely unreasonable belief for Akin to hold. The poll found that despite his “legitimate rape” comment, Akin still holds a one point lead over Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. From PPP:
Missouri voters strongly disagree with the comments Todd Akin made about abortion over the weekend, but it hasn’t moved the numbers a whole lot in the Senate race. Akin leads Claire McCaskill by a single point, 44-43. That’s basically identical to our last poll of the contest in late May, which found Akin ahead by a 45-44 spread.
It’s not that Missouri voters are ok with or supportive of Akin’s comments. 75% of voters, including even 64% of Republicans, say they were inappropriate to only 9% who consider them to have been appropriate. 79% of voters say they disagree with what Akin said, including 65% who express ‘strong’ disagreement with him. 51% of GOP voters say they strongly disagree with him.
All of that is taking a toll on Akin’s image. Only 24% of voters have a favorable opinion of him to 58% with a negative one. He’s pretty universally disliked by Democrats (3/85) and independents (21/61) and even with Republicans (43/34) he’s on only narrowly positive ground.
Clearly the incident has seriously hurt Akin, but McCaskill was in such bad shape to begin with that the race doesn’t appear entirely hopeless for Akin. If he drops out now his political career is over. If he stays in he at least has the possibility of winning. People have short memories and a six year term is a long time to try to rehab one’s imagine.
Akin’s numbers could still really drop in the coming weeks once the calls by top Republicans for him to drop out and the loss of outside money and RNSC money start taking their toll, but if he can survive that and keep the race close, I suspect he can count on some of the conservative outside money coming back.
Today by 5:00pm is the deadline for Akin to drop out without creating a legal fight. If he doesn’t by then, it is proof he still seriously thinks he can win.