If Akin Stays In

Like most of my ideological counterparts, I was hoping Todd Akin (who I voted for in the primary) would withdraw from the Senate race here in Missouri, and I was surprised that he didn't, especially with the easy-withdrawal deadline so conveniently right there on Tuesday (he can still withdraw, but would need a court order - I'm not sure how hard that would be to get). But he stayed in, and it seems to me that, if he didn't drop out then, he won't hereafter (he reiterated his plan to stay in on Friday). So while the drumbeat for him to go might continue, though somewhat diminished with time, it seems pertinent to look at what happens to him from here. I will look at three issues, and I will skirt the issue of national implications.

Before I start off, I link to this PowerLine post that asks whether Akin is unfit to be in the Senate. The author's conclusion: yes, if he repudiates his statement. He adds that Akin is preferable to incumbent Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill, who Akin is facing. I agree with this.

First, we have the money issue. He has lost a lot of donors, including the Republican National Senatorial Committee and Crossroads GPS, who were each going to pony up $5 million. Other, smaller donors have also withdrawn. Akin has been trying to gather small donations from regular people, and has brought in over $20,000 over the past three days, which won't go too far. Some smaller, socially-conservative groups have offered support to him, but again, their checks will be small. Perhaps Mike Huckabee, Akin's lone high-profile supporter, will help him bring in small-donor cash from around the country.

I have to think, though, that if Akin sticks it out, the controversy over his comments dies down a bit, and he keeps the race close (these may be big ifs), that perhaps some of that money will come back his way, if in no other form than ads against McCaskill.

Second is the loss of GOP party support. Part of the reason Akin is believed to have resisted calls to resign is that he's never been a favorite of the establishment, so they don't have much sway over him. He is trying to portray this loss of support as a throw-him-under-the-bus abandonment by national outsiders, assisted by the media. Akin is known for his loyal band of social conservative supporters (including homeschoolers), and this appeal might resonate with them (and maybe it is?).

Third is the loss of electoral support. He has gone from being up 5-10 points or so to being down 9 or 10. Akin has said about the 2nd poll that, despite all the attention he's gotten, McCaskill is still under 50% (she is at 48 in that one, 50 in the other.) I think, though, that we need to wait a couple of weeks to see how the current furor shakes out in the polls.Missouri, long a bellwether state, has become more conservative. In the 2010 Senate race, the Republican won 54-41. In 2008, McCain beat Obama in Missouri by 4,000 votes, but neither candidate is expending much effort here this time. The state is generally considered to lean to Romney. In an off-year, potential Akin voters might just stay home, but the presidential race ensures they will come vote. And the Republicans who show up won't vote for McCaskill. Undecided and swing voters will have to weigh one dumb remark against the voting records of both candidates and their view of Obama, to whom McCaskill is quite closely tied in most peoples' minds. 

The NY Times suggests that an Akin victory is "possible" (but is this just liberal propaganda to keep him in the race?). Two bloggers suggest ways forward for Akin: FIGHT and become much more disciplined and focused (mainly on the economy). Akin was having trouble with that before his rape comments.

Taking all this into consideration, I would say this race is not entirely over at this point.


  1. Should he withdraw because he misspoke or because he is actually wrong? I think that he misspoke, but there is a difference between statutory rape and assault rape and that pregnancy from assault rape is rare. While he had horrible word choice, I respect his position that abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape.


  2. I won't speak for Craig but for me it's the former. I have no problem with his position (in fact, putting his explanation aside, I agree with it) but I'm pragmatic and don't want him losing where another republican would win. But now that it looks like he is staying in, I'll support/vote for him. It will make election night just that more interesting though - but I'm not sure I really need more suspense in that area.

  3. I guess that comment would have made more sense if I was signed in as MacKenzie :-)

  4. I figured it out. I also had time to read all the links this morning, so I have a better understanding of Craig's opinion.

    I'm so frustrated with our gaffe-seeking political elimination system. Instead of looking for people who can actually lead or stand on principles, the last man standing is the person who never accidentally says any thing controversial.