Missouri Republicans select Akin to take on McCaskill

Rep. Todd Akin has edged two other Republicans to win his party’s nomination in the Missouri Senate primary. The near-final tally is Akin 36 percent, John Brunner 30 percent, and Sarah Steelman 29 percent. Sarah Palin endorsed Steelman.

Akin is considered the weakest of these three Republican candidates. In fact, the Democrats took the unusual step of intervening in the primary on Akin’s behalf. A Democratic PAC spent $1.7 million in the primary on ads attacking Brunner and Steelman. And an ad that ostensibly attacked Akin did so by emphasizing endorsements by Mike Huckabee and Michelle Bachmann, thereby helping Akin in the primary.

Polls confirm the Democrats’ assessment of the three Republicans. The last Rasmussen poll, taken at the end of July, had Steelman and Brunner each leading the incumbent Democrat, Claire McCaskill, by 49% to 43%, whereas Akin led by only 47% to 44%. A few days earlier, in a poll conducted by Mason-Dixon for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Brunner led McCaskill by 9 points, Steelman led by 8, and Akin by 5.

With Akin’s victory secure, it will be interesting to see the extent to which the Dems pour resources into this race in the hope of saving McCaskill, their most incumbent Senator. Such a “save” would go a long way to ensuring that Harry Reid will still be the Senate Majority Leader next year.

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