Daniel Doherty
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According to a new Rasmussen survey released Wednesday, Republican Senate hopeful Todd Akin trails incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill by six percentage points. All in all, though, that’s not too shabby for at least two reasons: (1) Republicans have financially abandoned Mr. Akin en masse for his confounding “legitimate rape” comments and (2) his campaign’s television advertisements were reportedly yanked from the airwaves this month due to lack of payment. Embarrassing. In any case, I think Akin is finally crawling -- slowly but surely -- out of the hole he dug himself into:

The fallout appears to linger in the Missouri Senate race, with incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill still holding a six-point lead over Republican challenger Todd Akin. But the race is tightening.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds McCaskill will 49% support to Akin’s 43%. Four percent (4%) prefer some other candidate in the contest, and another four percent (4%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Akin has rebounded slightly from late August when he trailed McCaskill 48% to 38% just after he told a television interviewer that in cases of “legitimate rape,” women’s reproductive systems shut down to prevent pregnancy. The resulting uproar prompted Mitt Romney and other leading Republicans to call for Akin to step down as the party’s Senate candidate in Missouri, but he refused.

While 49% represents McCaskill’s best showing in the race to date, Missouri now moves from Safe Democrat to Leans Democrat in the Rasmussen Senate Balance of Power rankings.

Again, given Akin’s unseemly and inappropriate comments -- as the pollsters note above -- it’s not surprising what demographic he’s struggling to win over:

Akin has a five-point lead among male voters but trails among female voters by 15 points. Still, that’s an improvement from a month ago.

While McCaskill has 96% support among the state’s Democrats, just 86% of Missouri Republicans favor Akin. Voters not affiliated with either major party prefer the incumbent by a 47% to 36% margin. That’s an increase in GOP support for Akin from the previous survey but a loss of unaffiliated voters.

On the other hand, Townhall.com’s Poll Tracker average shows Akin maintaining a modest, albeit statistically insignificant, lead:

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Akin can withdraw from the race anytime over the next thirteen days with a court order. But given his utter refusal to throw in the proverbial towel (even after the Republican vice presidential nominee explicitly told him to do so), I highly doubt he's willing to give up now.

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Daniel Doherty

Daniel Doherty is Townhall's Deputy News Editor. Follow him on Twitter @danpdoherty.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography