In Senate race, McCaskill leads Akin in fundraising and polls

McCaskill raised $5.8 million in the third quarter and leads Akin by 6 percent in recent polls.
Rep. Todd Akin discusses his Senate bid Friday at the Columbia Holiday Inn Executive Center. So far, Akin's campaign has raised only $2.2 million compared to Sen. Claire McCaskill's $12.5 million. Maneater File Photo

As the race for the Missouri U.S. Senate seat enters its final weeks, incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill has vastly out-fundraised her opponent, Republican Rep. Todd Akin.

McCaskill announced in an Oct. 3 tweet that her campaign had raised $5.8 million in in the third quarter. The $5.8 million reflects funds raised in July, August and September 2012.

Akin has not yet released his third quarter fundraising figures but recently celebrated raising $1 million through online donations. Akin appealed to individuals on Twitter, encouraging them to donate as little as $3 to the campaign.

Akin’s full third quarter fundraising figures will be available on Oct. 15, when financing reports are due to the Federal Elections Commission.

So far McCaskill’s campaign has out-fundraised and out-spent Akin by a significant margin. McCaskill has raised more than $12.5 million and spent more than $9 million during the campaign. In contrast, Akin has raised and spent about $2.2 million, according to fundraising data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

In the second quarter, McCaskill raised $2.6 million. Akin raised $283,742 in the same quarter, according to the FEC.

On Aug. 19, Akin made a controversial statement about “legitimate rape” during a television interview, which propelled the race into the national spotlight and led some GOP leaders to call for Akin to withdraw from the race.

“Everything about this race is going to be about that (legitimate rape) issue until Election Day," MU political science professor Marvin Overby said. "Even if you believe it, it’s such a foolish thing to say in the middle of a campaign."

Akin’s fundraising power was greatly diminished after major backers like the Republican National Commission and conservative super-PAC American Crossroads withdrew their financial support from his campaign. In recent weeks, he has re-gained some support from conservative groups. FEC data from Oct. 1 indicates that PACs have donated more than $372,000 to his campaign.

In previous races, Akin has still emerged victorious despite fundraising limitations. In the Republican primary, he beat out John Brunner despite being outspent by a margin of nearly three-to-one.

“Akin is kind of an odd candidate in that he has done reasonably well in the past even when he has been outspent,” Overby said.

Overby said although Akin is expected to capture the votes of Missouri’s bloc of Christian evangelicals, his limited funding may cause him to lag among other voting groups.

“It helps to have money,” Overby said. “Especially when you’re in a position like Akin where you’ve got to appeal to the moderate voters, the independent voters and the female voters that you’re not the bogeyman that the McCaskill campaign has made him out to be.”

Through Sept. 27, Akin spent about $884,000 on advertising. McCaskill, in contrast, has spent $5.1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Rasmussen and Public Policy Polling polls conducted during the first days in October both show McCaskill leading Akin by 6 percent.

Prior to Akin’s legitimate rape comment, the same polls showed Akin leading by an average of 4 percent between March and July, according to Real Clear Politics.

“McCaskill was the most vulnerable democratic incumbent running for re-election this year," Overby said. "(Akin’s comment) made her more than competitive — it’s probably put her in the driver’s seat for this race."

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