Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., has jumped to a 10-point lead over embattled challenger Rep. Todd Akin in a new poll by Rasmussen Reports and the seat has now moved to "Safe Democrat” in the pollster’s Senate Balance of Power rankings.
McCaskill, who until Akin’s remarks about abortion and rape had been considered one of the most endangered incumbents, now leads Akin 48 percent to 38 percent. She had trailed Akin in some polls by as much as 10 points before the gaffe.
The abrupt reversal of fortune might mean an end to GOP hopes of taking control of the Senate.
“Akin led McCaskill by three before winning the Republican primary,” Rasmussen noted. “Normally, a candidate would increase their lead after winning a competitive primary. However, the latest results move a seat that had once been leaning in the Republican direction to Safe Democrat in the Rasmussen Reports Senate Balance of Power rankings.”
The poll also found that 13 percent of Republicans now prefer a third party candidate as do 14 percent of unaffiliated voters, a move advocated by Sarah Palin during an appearance on Fox News.
Palin told Greta Van Susteren that former Missouri State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who she backed in the Republican primary, could still enter the race as a third party candidate, running on the slogan "The status quo has got to go."
The poll found McCaskill has also solidified support among Democrats, garnering 96 percent of the vote from Democrats. Just 70 percent of Republicans would vote for Akin, down from 86 percent.
Akin’s fortunes began to decline after he said that in cases of “legitimate rape,” women were unlikely to get pregnant because their reproductive systems shut down. GOP leaders, including presidential nominee Mitt Romney, have called on Akin to quit the race.
Since the controversy began, Akin’s favorability ratings have plummeted. Some 47 percent of voters now have a Very Unfavorable opinion of him, up from 22 percent.
Some 41 percent say he should withdraw, but 42 percent said he should stay. Most Republicans think he should quit and most Democrats think he should stay.
Male voters divide evenly among the two candidates but McCaskill holds a 20-point lead with women and a 70 percent to 21 percent lead with those who are not married. Akin has a slight 44 to 40 percent lead among married voters.
The poll queried 500 likely voters in Missouri on August 22, 2012.
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