As I wrote in an earlier post, partisan control of the U.S. Senate probably turns on the Missouri contest between unpopular Democrat incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill and unpopular Republican Rep. Todd Akin. Voters get it that McCaskill looks after whatever is best for the Obama Administration instead of her own constituents, but many remain alienated by Akin’s support for abortion restrictions for a pregnancy that resulted from a rape.
The final poll on the contest by Public Policy Polling shows that Akin has pulled within four points of McCaskill, 48%-44%, leaving McCaskill short of a majority. The only other senate candidate on the ballot, Libertarian Jonathan Dine, drew 6%, with 2% still undecided. Notably, most of those not opting for either McCaskill or Akin appear to be conservative oriented, favoring Romney, 72%-20%. PPP observed, “clearly [Dine]‘s pulling from folks who otherwise would have voted Republican. The Dine voters hate Akin- only 12% see him favorably to 67% with a negative opinion. But they hate McCaskill too- only 8% approve of the job she’s doing to 67% who disapprove. If they stay with Dine, McCaskill wins. If they decide the desire for a Republican Senate outweighs their disgust for Akin, then Akin has a chance.”
So, who is Jonathan Dine? For starters, he’s a convicted felon whom Missouri law would bar from the ballot in any state or local contest. (State law may not add additional qualifications (like not being a felon) for candidates for federal office over and above the bare requirements provided in the U.S. Constitution.) In addition to convictions for possession of marijuana (kind of a badge of honor for a Libertarian) and driving while intoxicated, Dine also has a 2005 conviction for identity theft. He favors gay marriage and drug decriminalization, while opposing U.S. “interventionist” foreign policy.
So, let’s get this straight. A set of mostly conservative voters who overwhelmingly and equally (67%) disapprove of both McCaskill and Akin are resolving their conflict by voting for a convicted identity thief who favors gay marriage, drug legalization and a foreign policy the Green Party could endorse?
I am guessing that most Dine backers don’t know about his criminal past or his controversial issue positions (except for pro-pot). The Voters Guide of the St. Louis Post Dispatch makes no mention of Dine’s convictions. Voters just know what Dine isn’t: he isn’t McCaskill, and he isn’t Akin.
Conservatives who are prone to settle on Dine need to consider the broader picture. Their not voting for Akin means victory for McCaskill. And victory for McCaskill most certainly means that Democrats and Harry Reid will keep control of the U.S. Senate, which would allow them to defeat the repeal of Obamacare, let the Bush tax cuts expire (thereby raising taxes across the board), block the entire Romney/Ryan agenda, and prevent Romney from appointing any conservative to the Supreme Court. That’s got to be worse than Akin’s perceived insensitivity towards rape victims.
PPP’s ultimate conclusion bears repeating, “If they stay with Dine, McCaskill wins. If they decide the desire for a Republican Senate outweighs their disgust for Akin, then Akin has a chance.”
If elected, Akin will support the Romney/Ryan reforms that McCaskill would fight tooth and nail. We absolutely need a Republican Senate. We need Todd Akin to be there.