The choice for Missouri voters for U.S. Senate this year should be a no-brainer. Incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill’s six-year voting record is a major cause of the nation’s economic doldrums. After having won her seat by complaining that Republican Sen. Jim Talent’s voting with President Bush 90% of the time made him a Bush “rubber stamp,” she turned around and voted 98% of the time in lock-step with President Obama, including for his failed pork-laden stimulus bill and Obamacare, the single biggest threat to future economic development. The senator is also plagued by scandals, including her failure to pay property taxes on an airplane for which she had billed the government for her travel, her family profiting from the stimulus and other federal programs, and questionable business dealings by her husband conducted in the senate dining room. A majority of Missouri voters (51% according to Public Policy Polling, a leading Democrat pollster) disapprove of her performance (compared to just 44% approving). And yet, that poll shows those same respondents favoring McCaskill’s reelection over Republican Rep. Todd Akin by 46%-40%. The latest Rasmussen poll is even worse, showing McCaskill ahead, 51%-43%. (The Mason-Dixon poll conducted for the Post Dispatch, Kansas City Star and KMOV shows a 2-point race with 8% undecided, but its internal demographics look a little too conservative to me.)
The reason for the disconnect between McCaskill’s unpopularity and possible reelection, of course, is reaction to Akin’s insensitive comments about abortions of pregnancies resulting from rape (euphemistically called “emergency contraception” by McCaskill’s sleezy ads). In reality, Akin’s views (which McCaskill chastises as “out of the mainstream”) are shared by 25% of the national population, including radicals like the Roman Catholic Church. Akin is a principled conservative who speaks for many Missouri voters on a host of important issues. But as a practical matter, the thought of being obligated to carry a rapist’s child to term is repugnant to many women voters. Akin promptly and repeatedly apologized, but many voters remain unwilling to grant him Christian forgiveness. PPP notes that its respondents who are undecided in the senate race favor Romney over Obama, 81%-13%.
Another 6% (down from an earlier 9%) of voters in the PPP poll are resolving their distaste for both candidates by supporting Libertarian nominee Jonathan Dine, a convicted identity thief, the only other candidate on the ballot. Most voters would regard identity theft as worse than misspeaking about abortion, if they knew about it. (The Voters Guide of the St. Louis Post Dispatch makes no mention of Dine’s criminal past.) What those voters should understand, though, is that throwing away their votes to Dine would effectively reelect McCaskill.
There are more important issues on which to base one’s vote this year, notably the economy and the need to repeal Obamacare. The way senate contests in other states are shaping up, the Romney Administration will be unable to repeal Obamacare, reform the tax code or pass any significant legislation without Todd Akin in the Senate. Republican control of the senate, which Missouri voters desire by a 7-point plurality in the PPP poll, will likely be thwarted by a McCaskill win.
Even with Paul Ryan as vice-president to break senate ties, Republicans need to overcome the current Democrat 3-seat lead and the likely loss of the Maine seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe. The GOP is on target to take the seats of retiring Democrat senators in deep-red Nebraska and North Dakota and in unseating the Democrat incumbent in Montana. A Republican takeover of the open Democrat-held seat in Wisconsin would be the fourth, and former Gov. Tommy Thompson’s chances of taking that seat for the GOP are currently rated a tossup. Once promising opportunities for Republicans to take over Democrat seats in Florida, Virginia, Connecticut, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Mexico and Hawaii have faded.
What makes the Missouri contest so pivotal is the senate contest in Massachusetts, a mirror image of Missouri. Incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown is seeking reelection in a Democrat state. Unlike McCaskill, he actually remains popular with his state’s voters, who approve of his job performance by a 49%-42% margin. according to PPP. Brown’s Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, represents the far left fringe of the Democratic party. She has been caught fraudulently gaining employment and promotions with phony claims of Native American ancestry (giving rise to her derisive nickname, Fauxcahontas), and practiced law illegally without a license for some 15 years. Voters give her a lower net approval rating (49%-45%) than Brown. However, Massachusetts voters also want Democrat control of the senate by a 52%-35% margin, and they now favor Fauxcahontas over Brown, 50%-44% (52%-47% according to Rasmussen, with undecideds trending Democrat).
Massachusetts voters like Brown and don’t care much for Warren, but they are voting Warren in order to maintain Democrat control of the senate. They have their eyes on the prize, and are voting accordingly.
A Brown loss would require Republicans to take a fifth seat in order to seize senate control. Realistically that fifth seat is Missouri.
Missouri voters need to learn from Massachusetts’ example. If Bay State voters can set aside Professor Warren’s fraudulent abuse of minority quotas, her breach of trust in practicing law without a license and her “out of the mainstream” (even for Massachusetts) liberalism in order to effect their desired partisan control of the U.S. Senate, certainly Missouri voters can and should set aside Akin’s poorly communicated views on abortion to accomplish the desired senate control.
Get real, Missouri. You can’t realistically free the nation from Obamacare or unshackle our job creators without Todd Akin in the senate. Keep your eyes on the prize.