Five Senate Cliffhangers as Election Nears

Republicans and Democrats battle in races that should have been settled long ago.

Supporters of Republican Senate candidates Richard Mourdock (Indiana) and Todd Akin (Missouri) wave campaign signs.
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Indiana, Missouri: Pro-life candidates struggle to catch up in red states.

No one expected it would be that hard. Romney leads in Missouri and Indiana and both Republican Senate candidates fought tooth and nail to win their Republican Party's nomination.

But when Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin said "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he erased his wide lead against vulnerable incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

And just when the gaffe was slipping into the backs of voters' minds, Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock told a debate audience that "even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen." Both Missouri and Indiana are red states and the GOP was counting on them to win the Senate. But polls show both candidates lagging behind, and pundits say it's unlikely they will recover in time to win on Election Day.

"This whole Akin problem for the Republicans has made it more difficult for them to win the Senate," says Kondik. "I don't think that Akin is a sure loser, but I think he would be a definite underdog."

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  • Lauren Fox is a political reporter for U.S. News & World Report. She can be reached at lfox@usnews.com or you can follow her on Twitter @foxreports.