Only in the tumultuous world of Missouri politics could the new leader in the race for the U.S. Senate denounce a poll showing she was ahead.
But that’s what happened Thursday as Sen. Claire McCaskill derided a new survey that suddenly showed the Democrat leading Republican Todd Akin by 10 points — 48 to 38 percent. The new poll was the first one this year showing McCaskill in front of Akin.
“Rasmussen’s poll made me laugh out loud,” McCaskill wrote on Twitter. “If anyone believes that, I just turned 29. (She is 59). Sneaky stuff.”
McCaskill’s camp is convinced that the new poll from Rasmussen Reports is inaccurate. Democrats have long regarded Rasmussen as a Republican pollster. A different pollster earlier in the week showed Akin up by 1 point.
A spokeswoman for Rasmussen defended their poll, saying: “We provide information on what the public is thinking and have no interest in whether one politician beats another.”
Akin has been under fire for saying Sunday that “legitimate” rape victims have the ability to biologically prevent pregnancies. He has since said he misspoke and apologized for the remarks.
Despite his apologies, virtually the entire Republican establishment — including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, running mate Paul Ryan, and five former and current U.S. senators from Missouri — has called for Akin to step down.
The Akin campaign issued its own statement about the poll and once again reiterated the six-term congressman’s intention to remain in the race.
“The fact that Claire McCaskill is only polling at 48 percent after 72 hours of constant negative attacks on Todd Akin shows just how weak she is,” said Perry Akin, the candidate’s son and campaign manger. “If she can’t break 50 percent after a week like this, Democrats should ask Claire to step down.”
Akin is “in this race to win,” Perry Akin added. “We will close this gap and win in November with the support of the grass roots in Missouri and across America.”
Also Thursday, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who backed Akin during the primary campaign and appeared in two TV spots on Akin’s behalf, sent an email to Republicans urging them to stand by the congressman.
“I was shocked by GOP leaders and elected officials who rushed so quickly to end the political life of a candidate over a mistaken comment in an interview,” Huckabee wrote.
Akin reportedly spent Wednesday night and Thursday in Tampa, Fla., the site of next week’s Republican National Convention, huddled with a group of conservative leaders attending a meeting of the Council for National Policy.
One source close to Akin who was asked if the congressman was re-evaluating his decision to stay in the race told CNN that he was “keeping an open ear to those people who are pushing him or questioning him on viability.”
The source also said Akin was getting support from those at the council’s meeting, although others cautioned that the controversy was splitting conservatives.
Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, met privately with Akin on Thursday and told CNN that the congressman and his advisers were giving the race a “thorough assessment of whether or not the support is there to continue the campaign.”
Akin’s campaign could not be reached for comment. Akin has said he won’t attend next week’s convention.
On another front, Akin’s camp announced that an online fundraising appeal had met its $100,000 goal. The campaign was seeking to raise $25,000 more by late Thursday night.
“Over the past 48 hours, I have apologized, been attacked by the party bosses, yet through it all, voters have rallied behind me,” Akin said in an online message to supporters. “With every donation, we are showing the Washington elites that we are ready to defeat Claire McCaskill.”