Incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is leading by 10 points over challenger Congressman Todd Akin, according to a Rasmussen poll released Thursday. This is the first time Senator McCaskill has led in the polls since May. She currently has 48 percent support to Akin's 38 percent.
The new poll shows the impact of explosive statements Congressman Akin made about rape this past Sunday. He claimed that "legitimate rape" does not usually lead to pregnancy. "First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare," Akin said to KTVI-TV. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume maybe that didn't work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child." [Emphasis added]
Since the interview, many Republicans, including Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), and four former Missouri Senators, have urged Akin to step down from the race. He has refused to do so.
Other Republicans have made similarly incendiary comments since Akin's statements last weekend. Congressman Steve King (R-IA) commented that he had never heard of a child being impregnated from statutory rape or incest.
This attitude towards rape is not a new trend. Earlier this year, Idaho state representative Chuck Winder doubted a woman would know whether or not she had been raped stating "I would hope that when a woman goes in to a physician with a rape issue, that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps, her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage or was it truly caused by a rape. I assume that’s part of the counseling that goes on."
Incumbent McCaskill has a demonstrated pro-choice record and has supported many women's issues, including voting to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
The Rasmussen poll was conducted by phone interview of 500 "likely" Missouri voters conducted August 22nd with a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points.
Media Resources: Rasmussen Reports 8/24/12; Huffington Post 8/24/12; Opposing Views 8/22/12; New York Times 8/21/12; TPM 8/21/12; Politico 8/19/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 8/20/12