As the clock strikes midnight in Missouri, my good friend, Maddie Toll, who is working on Claire McCaskill’s re-election for campaign semester, will not be getting a drop of sleep. Her and the democratic incumbent’s team, who for the past few weeks have been working vigorously 18-20 hour days, seven days a week, will be up all night preparing for tomorrow and placing hangers on every blue house’s door knocker in sight. This race has been one of the most hotly contested and closely watched in the country. Many will remember that McCaskill’s opponent, republican and pro-lifer Todd Akin, is the one who infamously dropped the “legitimate rape” comment back in August, stating, “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Uproar ensued shortly after and many senior republicans condemned Akin, calling for his resignation from the race. However, the house representative refused– instead apologizing and remaining in the contest.
With both the incumbent advantage that McCaskill has and the damage done to Akin’s reputation after the comment, one would think that it is a clear victory for Senator McCaskill. However, Akin has proven to come back steadily from McCaskill’s nearly seven point lead at the beginning of September, even narrowing the gap to only plus one for McCaskill by the beginning of October. This is due to the fact that Missouri is a heavily red Romney state; so red in fact, that Obama For America withdrew virtually all of its 2012 campaigning early on and McCaskill’s campaign has been willingly compromising with a Romney/McCaskill ballot. That being said, McCaskill’s best strategy so far has been to structure the campaign as “between herself,” one of the most moderate democrats in the senate (watch the video above), and ‘a candidate who is very extreme.’”
While Real Clear Politics (see above) heading into tomorrow puts McCaskill at a fairly comfortable 6.3 points above her challenger, Maddie’s updates over the past month and week make it clear that their campaign is not bringing the broom out anytime soon until the results are safely announced. With almost no hope previously placed on Akin’s campaign, it has been quite the surprising resurgence for him, showing just how strong the republican base is in Missouri. It has been a competitive race in which McCaskill has the lead, but neither side has been able to claim a sure victory just yet. As James Harris, a GOP consultant explains, “If voters go to the ballot box thinking about debt, economy or her relationship with Barack Obama, she loses. If they go in thinking about the comments made by the congressman, she is probably in a better position.” Stay tuned tomorrow because only time will tell how this fierce and important race will play out.
– Julia Gould