Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill now holds a 9-point lead over Republican challenger Todd Akin, touching the 50-percent mark in an internal poll conducted for her campaign.
In a memo shared with POLITICO, the pollsters at Kiley & Company write that McCaskill’s lead is built on strong advantages among women and independent voters. She leads Akin overall, 50 percent to 41 percent, with 7 percent of the vote still up for grabs and 2 percent voting for other candidates.
The first-term Democrat has an 18-point advantage among women – no surprise, given the firestorm of controversy surrounding Akin’s comments about pregnancy and rape. McCaskill also leads among independent voters, 51 percent to 28 percent.
The pollster writes that the Missouri electorate continues “to see Akin as being caught up in controversy,” even as the GOP congressman has sought to refocus his campaign on the incumbent. McCaskill has only recently begun to air paid ads attacking Akin for his comments on rape and abortion, now that the deadline for potentially pulling out of the race has passed.
“Voters are three times more likely to say that their opinions of Akin have grown less favorable (43%) rather than more favorable (15%). Another 39% say their opinions have not changed. By contrast, voters are more likely to say that their opinions of McCaskill have grown more favorable (26%) rather than less favorable (20%) over the past couple of weeks,” the pollsters write. “Taken together, these findings indicate that – nearly six weeks after the furor over his comments about “legitimate rape” – the public continues to see Akin as being mired in controversy.”
McCaskill’s lead is a 3-point improvement over her campaign’s previous September poll, which showed her ahead of Akin by a 6-point margin. Polling taken for outside conservative groupshave suggested a tighter race and the Democratic firm PPP is expected to put out a new public survey this week.
The full McCaskill polling memo is available here. The survey tested 600 likely Missouri voters for a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.