Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Has Akin Killed His Campaign ?
That rape-friendly statement by the teabagger candidate immediately drew a firestorm of protest from around the country. Even the members of his own Republican Party were horrified by his disingenuous and mean-spirited comment, and many of them are calling for him to step down and let the Missouri Republican Party find a replacement. They are afraid he has ruined his chances of beating his incumbent Democratic opponent (Claire McCaskill). As the chart above shows, even the talking heads at Fox News are afraid of how damaging this story can be to his campaign -- and they are trying their best to avoid the story (to protect Republicans).
This brings up the question of whether Akin has really damaged his campaign (and possibly that of other Republicans). Or do Missouri voters (who are trending Republican) simply not care that the GOP senate candidate is a complete idiot and an integral part of that party's war on women? There are two new polls that try to answer those questions.
The first survey is from Public Policy Polling and was taken on August 20th. It shows Akin holding on to a very slim lead (44% to 43%) -- very similar to the lead this poll showed he had last May (45% to 44%), although the results in both months are within the margin of error. About all that can be said is that the race seems deadlocked at this point. But there is evidence that Akin definitely hurt himself with the statement. His favorability rating is not upside down (24% favorable and 58% unfavorable) -- and even worse than the favorability rating of his opponent, Claire McCaskill (41% favorable and 53% unfavorable). It may simply be that voters haven't had time for the full impact of Akin's gaffe to sink in.
The other survey is a SurveyUSA News Poll. This one is a bit more negative toward Akin. This poll didn't ask their respondents who they would vote for right now, but it did ask whether they thought Akin should drop out of the race, and 54% said he should drop out (including 33% of Republicans and 58% of Independents). Also, 55% said they didn't buy his excuse that he just "mis-spoke" (including 27% of Republicans and 60% of Independents). Only 35% thought he should stay in the race and 32% thought he had just "mis-spoke".
Has he mortally wounded his campaign? That answer is still up in the air. Perhaps it will be answered by coming polls. But one thing is certain -- he didn't do himself any good. And he's made the unseating of his opponent much more difficult.