What a difference one TV interview can make. Embattled Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill has now jumped to a 10-point lead over her Republican challenger, Congressman Todd Akin, in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race. Most Missouri Republicans want Akin to quit the race while most Missouri Democrats want him to stay. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the Show Me State finds McCaskill earning 48% support to Akin’s 38%.
Akin's unfavorable rating has spiked by 24 points. The group most eager for Akin to remain in the race? Democrats:
Forty-one percent (41%) say Akin should withdraw from the campaign and have Republicans select another candidate to run against McCaskill. But just as many (42%) disagree and say Akin should not quit the race. The partisan divide reveals voter understanding of the underlying dynamics. Most Republicans (53%) think he should quit; most Democrats (56%) do not, and unaffiliated voters are evenly divided.
Akin was always McCaskill's weakest potential challenger, which is shy she spent an enormous amount of money boosting him. She essentially hand-picked her opponent by successfully manipulating GOP primary voters.. Sources close to Akin have leaked his supposed internal strategy: Try to weather the storm, test the fundraising waters, and stay in if he's not down by five or more points in the polls. Well, voila -- he's down ten, before a single attack ad has been aired. Akin can still technically leave the race by September 25th, but since the initial "penalty-free" deadline has passed, the process of dropping out would be more complicated and costly to the party. We'll see if Akin belatedly decides to make the right decision in light of the new data. In his myriad interviews, he's insisted that this "isn't about" him; it's about the future of the country, and beating McCaskill. If that's what he truly believes -- beneath all of the self-delusion -- staring at a ten-point deficit to an otherwise extremely vulnerable incumbent should make this call, appropriately, a no-brainer.
UPDATE - Could Claire McCaskill be any less subtle? Here's what she just tweeted:
RT @ClaireCMC: Rasmussen poll made me laugh out loud. If anyone believes that, I just turned 29. Sneaky stuff. http://bit.ly/SscVZf
Oh, there's no way I'm leading by ten points, Todd -- you're fine. Trust me. Might one of Akin's advisers explain the concept of playground-level reverse psychology to their candidate?
UPDATE II - The delusion deepens as the Akin camp calls on McCaskill to drop out of the race. Whee!
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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