Observations on the Pennsylvania and Missouri Senate races

A new Quinnipiac poll confirms that the Pennsylvania Senate race has tightened considerably. According to Qunnipiac’s survey, incumbent Democrat Bob Casey now leads Republican challenger Tom Smith by only 3 points, 48-45.

Two other recent polls of this race are in line with Quinnipiac’s. Rasmussen has Casey ahead 49-45 and the Morning Call newspaper has Casey up 41-39. Only PPP, a Democrat shop, shows Casey maintaining his once big lead – 50-39.

The tightening of the Pennsylvania Senate race corresponds generally to a tightening of the presidential race in that state. But the closest Romney came to Obama in the four recent surveys is 4 points.

Who is Tom Smith? He started out as a coal miner. Eventually, he became a coal mine owner. Until 2010, Smith was a Democrat. But he’s no liberal. Smith is campaigning on a pro-growth economic platform similar to Mitt Romney’s. And he opposes abortion in all circumstances.

In late August, Smith’s clumsy handling of questions about abortion in cases of rape became the basis for attempts to equate him with Todd Akin. The attack on Smith was silly and need not be analyzed here. The voters of Pennsylvania appear to have seen through it, and Smith is surging.

Akin may finally be surging too. Wenzel Strategies, a Republican leaning pollster, recently found that he is leading McCaskill 49 to 45 percent. Other polls, including one from Rasmussen earlier in the month, show McCaskill still ahead. I doubt that Akin is ahead, but his race appears to be winnable for the Republicans.

So when are the national Republicans going to help Akin? Or are they so cowed by sickening, fabricated allegations of a “Republican war on women” that they will concede this Senate seat because of a single ill-informed statement for which the candidate promptly and profusely apologized?

Claire McCaskill’s vote put Obamacare over the top. With what thoughts will national Republicans console themselves if McCaskill’s vote proves decisive for the Dems on another big issue during the next six years? It certainly won’t be the thought that allegations of a Republican war on women are a thing of the past.

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