Rejected, mocked, left for dead by the Republican establishment and the big-money super PACs, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) has come from behind to reach an effective tie with incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill in the latest St. Louis Post-Dispatch/News 4/Kansas City Star poll of 625 likely voters in Missouri. The Oct. 23-25 poll shows Akin behind only 2 points, down 45%-43%--well within the poll's 4-point margin of error.
It's not that Missouri voters have suddenly warmed to Akin, who infamously opined that a female rape victim could only conceive through "legitimate rape." His (dis)approval rating in the poll stands at -14%, with 28% holding a favorable view of him and 42% holding an unfavorable view. But McCaskill is not exactly well-liked, with an approval rating of -7%, and she is being hurt further by an increasingly unpopular Obama/Biden ticket.
The poll shows Romney leading Obama by double digits, and even narrowly winning the St. Louis metro area (though within the margin of error). Obama's approval rating in the poll is even worse than Akin's, at -16%. By contrast, Romney is well within positive territory, at +24% approval; Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon is at +11%.
McCaskill's campaign is contesting the poll numbers, and has said its own internal numbers show the incumbent with a 14-point lead over the same time period and with a similar number of voters--though it was not clear whether the campaign had measured likely voters or registered voters. Democrats are confident enough in her chances that they are pulling back on advertising in the state.
But for now, at least, Akin has renewed hope.