McCaskill cast herself as a moderate and portrayed Akin as an extremist even before Akin's gaffe a week ago in which he told a St. Louis TV interviewer that women's bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rate." Akin has since apologized and said he was wrong.
A poll released Saturday by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and TV station KMOV showed McCaskill with 50 percent support, compared with 41 percent for Akin. The telephone poll of 625 registered Missouri voters who said they were likely to vote in the November election was conducted Wednesday and Thursday. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Republican Judy Loman, 68, of the rural central Missouri town of Versailles, said she believes Akin's apology is sincere although she acknowledged "mixed feelings" about whether to vote for him in November. Regardless, Loman said, she would not vote for McCaskill.
In the primary, Carolyn Hinze supported one of Akin's rivals and she didn't like Akin's recent remarks about rape. Yet the 71-year-old retired insurance agent from Joplin plans to remain a loyal Republican and vote for Akin in November.
"He's a little more conservative than I am, but I don't think he's dangerous," Hinze said.
Rick Althaus, a political science professor at Southeast Missouri State University, said that no matter the outcome of the Senate race, he's already changed the textbooks at his school. For more than a decade, the book used for the introductory course on American government included a section about Missouri politics written by Althaus that explained the state's bellwether nature. He removed that description for the 2012 edition.
Simply put: "Missouri is losing its bellwether status," Althaus said.
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