Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill is back, thanks to the potential career-ending "legitimate rape" gaffe by Senate challenger Rep. Todd Akin.
A new Rasmussen Reports poll just out has McCaskill beating Akin 48 percent to 38 percent.
But, significantly, voters are split over the GOP's push to get him to quit the race. Some 42 percent want him to stay in, 41 percent want him out.
Here is Rasmussen's analysis:
What a difference one TV interview can make. Embattled Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill has now jumped to a 10-point lead over her Republican challenger, Congressman Todd Akin, in Missouri's U.S. Senate race. Most Missouri Republicans want Akin to quit the race while most Missouri Democrats want him to stay.
The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the Show Me State finds McCaskill earning 48% support to Akin's 38%. Nine percent (9%) like some other candidate in the race, and five percent (5%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Akin led McCaskill by three before winning the Republican Primary. Normally, a candidate would increase their lead after winning a competitive primary. However, the latest results move a seat that had once been leaning in the Republican direction to Safe Democrat in the Rasmussen Reports Senate Balance of Power rankings.
Notably, 13% of Republicans now prefer a third party candidate as do 14% of unaffiliated voters. Among Democrats, none now favor a third party option and Democratic support for McCaskill has solidified. She now earns 96% of the vote from her party. Only 70% of Republicans would vote for the current nominee of their party. That's down from 86% earlier.
Akin was the favorite in the race until he told a television interviewer on Sunday that in cases of "legitimate rape," women's reproductive systems shut down to prevent pregnancy. The resulting uproar has prompted Mitt Romney and other leading Republicans to call for Akin to step down as the party's Senate candidate in Missouri. So far he has refused to do so.
Forty-seven percent (47%) of the state's voters have a Very Unfavorable opinion of Akin today. That's up from 22% before the primary.
Forty-one percent (41%) say Akin should withdraw from the campaign and have Republicans select another candidate to run against McCaskill. But just as many (42%) disagree and say Akin should not quit the race. The partisan divide reveals voter understanding of the underlying dynamics. Most Republicans (53%) think he should quit; most Democrats (56%) do not, and unaffiliated voters are evenly divided.