Thursday, August 30, 2012

Left for Dead, Challenger Todd Akin May Still Win Senate Seat Despite "Legitimate Rape" Comment

Following Republican Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin's statement about "legitimate rape," whatever that is, his candidacy was left for dead.   While he lost a good-sized lead on incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, he still has a shot at pulling it out.  A recent poll in fact shows him with a 3 point lead.
Congressman Todd Akin

As a side note, when I heard Congressman Akin begin his explanation about pregnancy from rape, I knew where he was going. There has long been the theory out there in the pro-life movement that pregnancy is less likely to happen as a result of a rape than if the sexual act is consensual.  As far as I know, there are no scientific studies confirming this and Akin tortured his explanation of the theory.  I mean, how is a rape ever "legitimate?"  Words have consequences and words may well have cost Akin a Senate seat.

As another side note, pro-lifers hold a popular position when they oppose abortion on demand.  Abortion proponents want the game fought on the popular exceptions people want to abortion such as for rape and incest.  Pro-lifers are fools for not conceding those exceptions (I know the argument that doing so is inconsistent with the biological fact of unborn life) and instead letting abortion supporters fight the battle on turf favorable to them.  Isn't it better to win 99% rather than lose fighting over the the 1%?

Back to the main event.  Politico reports on a Family Research Council Poll that shows Akin leading 45-42. While the Family Research Council is a huge supporter of Akin, the pollster, Fritz Wenzel is a legitimate pollster.  According to Politico:
A survey commissioned by the Family Research Council — the prominent social conservative group standing with Akin — and shared with POLITICO found that Akin now pulls 45 percent support to McCaskill’s 42 percent.

That’s not to say Akin hasn’t sustained damage: his personal image is weak, with 44 percent of voters having a favorable impression of him and 50 percent having an unfavorable impression. But he still leads McCaskill by 10 points among independent voters and in the conservative-leaning state, Akin wins about the same percentage of Republicans (78 percent) that McCaskill wins among Democrats (82 percent.) 
Pollster Fritz Wenzel underlines the importance of Akin’s support on the right: “McCaskill holds a 58% lead over Akin among very liberal voters, but that pales compared to Akin’s 81% to 5% lead among very conservative voters in Missouri.”

“Despite the firestorm of news in the Senate race over the past few weeks, most voters have already made up their mind in the race, the survey shows,” Wenzel writes. “The fact that 80% said they were firm in their choice certainly indicates that this is a race that will be decided more by ideology and turnout efforts by the campaigns and less by breaking news that flashes across the news pages and cable news channels.”

While other less recent post-"legitimate rape" polls show McCaskill with as much as a 10 point lead, I expect that surge will be temporary and that it will eventually be a dead heat.  Of course without the "legitimate rape" comment, Akin would be ahead instead neck-to-neck with the incumbent.

I do agree though that people in Missouri have made up their minds and the outcome will depend on which side turns out their people the best.


Gary R. Welsh said...

Intuitively, what he said made sense but it's just one of those areas where a politician is better off not going there and leaving it to the experts to explain. I was surprised to read about a prominent female physician citing data and studies that essentially back up his remarks from a medical standpoint. Democrats can get by with making all kinds of outlandish statements and they are always brushed aside by the media and defended by their fellow Democrats. Republicans always throw their own under the bus at the first hint of fowl weather, and the media never cuts them any flack, no matter how much they apologize after the fact as Akin has attempted to do.

Maple Syrup Maven said...

Is "legitimate pollster" like "legitimate rape"?

And, Gary: What "prominent female physician" has backed up Akin's remarks about the female body refusing to become pregnant by "legitimate rape"?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Actually Maple, I think Akin actually said women who are raped are LESS likely to get pregnant than from consensual sex not that they can't get pregnant from rape. In the media coverage that followed I think Akin's oomment's got altered in tha regard. I highly doubt he said women who are raped can never get pregnant an absolute statement.

I like Gary have heard that too. And I've heard statistics as well. It's been a long time ago and frankly I'm not sure how you would go about studying that sort of thing. It wouldn't be easy. Frankly, I don't trust statistics much unless I know the methodology behind them.

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

So. No source for the "prominent female physician" remarks.

Saying that women who are raped are less likely to get pregnant than from consensual sex has NO basis in fact.

If women's bodies had a "way of shutting that whole thing down", we wouldn't need artificial contraception, eh?