Political pundits in Missouri lamented the state's lack of swing state status this year. Democrats chose Charlotte, N.C., instead of St. Louis as the site of the party's national convention. Polls all year, including one less than a month ago by Mason-Dixon, indicated a massive lead for Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama. The New York Times reported June 28 the Republican had a nine-point lead in Missouri. Enter Rep. Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" remarks from Sunday, and suddenly Missouri might be back on the political map.
Why is Missouri important in the presidential race now?
The Hill reports former Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama told CNN Akin's remarks may cost Republicans a chance to pick up a Senate seat, but more importantly could cost Romney electoral votes in Missouri. Davis said, "[Akin is] not going to win this race and it's very possible he could cost Mitt Romney this state."
Davis is supporting Romney despite being a former Democrat and former co-chair of Obama's campaign. Davis began stumping for Romney a week ago, according to CNN.
What has Romney said about Akin?
Romney urged Akin to step aside Tuesday, according to the Huffington Post. Romney said, "[Akin's] fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel... ." Akin refused to step aside and let someone else run. Missouri law gave candidates until Tuesday at 5 p.m. CT to step down and let someone else run. Now, only a court order can push Akin aside by Sept. 25.
Do any recent polls indicate Missouri may be back in play for the presidential race?
A new Associated Press poll reveals Obama holds a huge lead over Romney in social issues such as abortion. The margin is 52 percent to 35 percent. The more social issues become an election-year battle, at this point it may favor Obama. The president also leads 48 percent to 42 percent on Medicare, an entitlement program Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., wants to privatize and cut back government funding in his plan for the federal budget.
A SurveyUSA poll from Aug. 12 showed Romney with a 45 percent to 44 percent overall lead among 720 adults surveyed. Although not considered a swing state during this election cycle, more polls may later reveal a chance for Obama to win Missouri.
What about Akin's status among pollsters?
A Public Policy Polling survey taken after Akin's remarks shows the congressman with a one-point lead over his opponent, incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill. After his primary victory, Akin had an 11-point lead in a separate poll but now leads 44 percent to 43 percent. The sudden 10-point drop is significant as Akin's lead is now within the margin of error as of Monday night.
What about Missouri's bellwether status?
Until the 2008 election, Missouri voters chose the winner in every presidential election except two since 1904. In 1956, the state went for Adlai Stevenson instead of Dwight Eisenhower. In 2008, Sen. John McCain won by one-tenth of one percent over Obama, according to 270toWin.com. The winner of Missouri generally wins the general election for president. Missouri has 10 electoral votes.
William Browning is a research librarian specializing in U.S. politics.