A new Missouri poll indicates Rep. Todd Akin’s rape remarks have not hurt Mitt Romney in Missouri, but the comments about “legitimate rape” and the controversy that ensued have damaged Akin, especially among women voters.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch poll found Akin, who had been leading McCaskill by five points and was tied with the Democrat among women voters before his remarks, now trails McCaskill by 9 points overall and by 18 points with women voters.
Democrats have tried to tie Akin’s comments to Romney, but the poll found Romney still leads President Barack Obama in Missouri by 7 points, 50-43.
These numbers come out after Akin vowed to stay in the race at a press conference on Friday. The deadline for Akin to withdraw was last Tuesday. Akin had until September 25 to petition for a court order to remove his name off the ballot, which would allow the Missouri GOP to select a replacement candidate. Akin's is a race Republicans must win to get control of the Senate and, until now, was assumed to be a shoo-in. McCaskill is still viewed more unfavorably than she is favorably in the poll.
Akin still has strong support in Missouri’s pro-life rural areas, but his numbers have dropped by 10 points. In vote-rich St. Louis, Akin had been trailing McCaskill by 5-15 points. Now, Akin trails by 24 points.
The poll also found more than half of Missouri voters view Akin unfavorably and less than 20% view him favorably. In July, according to a Mason-Dixon poll, 24% of voters in Missouri viewed Akin favorably while only 11% viewed him negatively; 40% had no opinion of him and 23% didn't know who he was.
In the Post-Dispatch poll, only 3 percent had not heard of Akin, indicating he has not made a good impression, to say the least, on voters who have just been introduced to him.
The findings are similar to a Rasmussen poll on Friday that showed Akin trailing McCaskill by 10 points; the Rasmussen poll, unlike the Post-Dispatch poll, also found Obama with a one-point lead over Romney.
Forty-seven percent of Democrats wanted Akin to stay in the race while 37% wanted him to drop out. On the other hand, 47% of Republicans wanted Akin to withdraw and 37% wanted him to stay in the race. More self-identified McCaskill voters wanted Akin to stay in the race than self-identified Akin voters.
Forty-one percent of men wanted Akin to quit the race, as opposed to 39% who wanted him to stay in the race. These numbers also varied among Independents (57-25).
The Post-Dispatch conducted the poll on August 22-23, and the poll's margin of error of is +/- 4 points.