Two weeks after he was voted the Republican nominee in the Missouri Senate race, Todd Akin may withdraw as a candidate after remarks he made on Sunday outlining wildly controversial views on rape and abortion, comments which sparked a national backlash from both conservatives and liberals alike.
On Sunday, the Tea Party-backed Akin (he isn’t 100% Tea Party, and wasn’t the “Tea Party candidate” in the GOP primary, but has been backed by the likes of Michele Bachmann), made a completely over-the-top claim,, stating that pregnancy is rare from "legitimate rape" because the woman's body has ways to "shut the whole thing down." Not surprisingly those remarks went viral on Twitter and Akin has since released a statement saying that he "misspoke."
Now Akin is reportedly hours away from resigning as the GOP nominee, especially after prominent politicians including Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama spoke out against him (below in this live blog, we explain why we think Akin will drop out of the race).
Republicans in the Show Me State picked Akin as the challenger for Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill from a pack of three other major candidates, including, a tea partier (Sarah Steelman) endorsed by Sarah Palin, and a social (John Brunner) conservative who pursued the state’s Christian voters.
PolicyMic covered the MO election live (results of which can be found below)
We will again be providing live coverage on the Akin developments, including analyses from our top political writers.
Tuesday, Aug. 21, 6 PM: Still no news or word from Akin. The deadline has now officially passed.
Tuesday, Aug. 21, 5:01 PM: The deadline is 5 p.m. Central time, btw. We have to wait another hour.
Tuesday, Aug. 21, 4:38 PM, Also, I'm a little late to this, but this Piers Morgan interview with "Akin" is epic:
Tuesday, Aug. 21, 4:30 PM: GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney is calling on a defiant Rep. Todd Akin to step aside in the Missouri Senate race.
"As I said yesterday, Todd Akin's comments were offensive and wrong and he should very seriously consider what course would be in the best interest of our country," Romney said in a statement. "Today, his fellow Missourians urged him to step aside, and I think he should accept their counsel and exit the Senate race," Romney said.
Tuesday, Aug. 21, 4:08 PM: Still No New News, Akin Still Defiant.
But here's a great analysis on how Akin distracts from real issues, from PM Pundit Jeffrey Bishku-Aykul:
Days into the Todd Akin scandal, which erupted in the wake of the Senate candidate’s comments regarding the female body’s mythical ability to bypass pregnancy by rape – opinions which directly contradict medical science, it may be worth adding, for anyone stupid enough to seriously consider his views – the resulting hullabaloo is distracting us from what really matters: voting for candidates based on their policies, not on the reputation of their party.
Democratic politicians are milking the scandal for all it's worth, while Republican operatives and Karl Rove’s Super PAC are scurrying to enact damage control. Things in the fourth estate, meanwhile, are looking peachy, as the resulting pandemonium suggests this election season may not be so boring after all.
But while the press, politicos, and the voting public have held their breath in anticipation, awaiting Akin's ultimate decision to remain in Missouri's Senate race, it has been the American people who have really lost out.
Akin’s anarchic comments are cause for dismay, and it may serve us well to engage in a national discussion to make sure we are in agreement over how silly they are. The congressman’s views are not cause for national scandal.
That Akin’s remarks represented a possible liability for the Romney campaign, which Obama was quick to capitalize on, brings to light an unfortunate reality of politics: local gaffes can have national repercussions.
This is not the story of a single fool speaking “off-the-cuff,” (as Akin describes his own comments), thus shaming the Missouri Republicans who support him. Rather, his remarks have become part of a Democratic attempt to tar and feather Mitt Romney and other Republicans. What should have remained a Midwestern kerfuffle has mutated into ammunition for Democratic spin doctors.
We need to remember what many of us learned in middle school social science: a president and a member of Congress play very different roles. Congress, part of the Legislative Branch, declares war and introduces legislation, while presidents, members of the Executive Branch, veto and sign legislation, as well as acting as the Armed Forces’ commander-in-chief.
Furthermore, there was no reason to believe that Romney shared Akin’s views by virtue of partisan affiliation, even before he publicly denounced them. After all, he once ran as a pro-choicegubernatorial candidate in Massachusetts – really. Akin's views do not encompass all Republican ideologies, just as neither Romney nor Obama speak for all of their parties’ members.
By sticking to party lines, voters have allowed for a system in which politicians play partisan games as means to their ends. If more voters dared to think outside partisan labels, political opportunists would be forced to give up their cheap tactic of tarnishing candidates with the extreme and idiotic beliefs of their cherry-picked party colleagues.
Ideally, voters would examine Obama’s economic and social policy positions alongside Romney’s and make a calculated decision in favor of one or the other (or another third, fourth or fifth party candidate). Ideally, they would elect their state and local representatives based on their individual platforms, not their partisan affiliations.
Yet, having by now lived through several election cycles, I’m afraid that is too much to ask.
Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2:15 PM:
Republicans are watching the clock as they wait for a defiant Todd Akin to drop out of the Missouri Senate race following controversial remarks he made about rape and abortion.
The six-term conservative congressman insists he's not quitting -- he said on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's radio show Tuesday afternoon that he's staying in the race.
"I haven't done anything morally or ethically wrong," Akin told Huckabee, saying the backlash against him "does seem like a little bit of an overreaction."
"We are going to continue this race for the U.S. Senate," Akin continued. "We believe taking this stand is going to strengthen our country, going to strengthen, ultimately, the Republican Party."
However, Akin is facing intense pressure from within his own party to drop out of the competitive race against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. He could easily do so -- before 5 p.m. Central Time today.
Tuesday, Aug. 21, 11 AM: Akin Faces 5 p.m. Deadline:
Republican leaders are focused on a Tuesday afternoon deadline, hoping that Rep. Todd Akin (Mo.), the embattled Senate candidate who used the phrase “legitimate rape” in talking about abortion and pregnancy, will heed their calls to get out of the race and preserve the GOP’s chances to take back the upper house.
Akin has said repeatedly that he has no intention of leaving the race, even as his prospects of winning have likely been diminished with Republican leaders pulling financial support from the contest and denouncing his comments.
Our call is that Akin will dropout of the race. The highest echelons of Republican leadership have blasted Akin for his views, and he is now a complete liability for the party, a laughing stock who's campaign can't possibly withstand the amount of media and political scrutiny he is enduring.
Akin's comments come as the GOP is seeking to make waves in a huge general election come November, in which not only the presidency, but also control of the House and Senate are up for grabs.
If Akin remains in the race, he will become the target of even more political and media attacks, and could inadvertently become the face of the GOP in election 2012 (and that's not a good thing).
The GOP is desperately looking for Akin to fall on his sword here.
The Ultimate Pocketbook to Pregnancy, Rape, and the Female Body: For All the Todd Akins Out There, from PolicyMic Pundit Camira Powell:
After Rep. Todd Akin (R – Mo.) madeegregiously false statements on how rape victims cannot get pregnant, it’s shocking that there is such a clear misunderstanding in our society surrounding the basics of conception and the female body. And it's not just Akin who has made such mindless comments. There have been comments from a number of top political officials who have echoed Akin's absurd beliefs.
So it's time for a little bit of a health lesson. On behalf of all women out there, it’s time to get the facts straight and clear up a few of the manymisconceptions that people like Akin have.
That said, here's a little guide to debunk some common, but dangerous, misconceptions about pregnancy from rape.
Fiction: “If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” – Rep. Todd Akin
Fact: Although the human body is miraculous and does an amazing job at fighting foreign entities, a female body doesn’t just “shut down” when a woman is the victim of rape. The uterus is pretty egalitarian; if egg meets sperm and implants on the uterine wall, it’s fair game as far as the uterus is concerned.
Fiction: “The facts show that people who are raped — who are truly raped — the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work and they don't get pregnant. Medical authorities agree that [pregnancy] is a rarity, if ever.” - Republican Rep. Henry Aldridge
Fact: I’m not sure what kind of “medical authorities” Aldridge is referring too, but a woman’s ability to get pregnant is not controlled by “juices” flowing, it’s actually based on a little something called hormones. It all starts when a girl begins her journey in womanhood, thanks to a little thing called the pituitary gland. The gland is in charge of releasing the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which control menstruation, a monthly “gift’ to most women who can bear children.
Let me draw it out for you:
Fiction: “The odds that a woman who is raped will get pregnant are one in millions and millions and millions," - state Rep. Stephen Freind (R-Delaware County)
Fact: For one, pregnancy from rape is not that rare. Every year, there are about 250,000 instances of rape, and that number only accounts for the ones that are reported. From there,32,000 rapes result in pregnancy, meaning one in every eight cases of rape lead to pregnancy. That doesn’t sound very “rare” to me.
Fiction: “Concern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.” - Federal Judge James Leon Holmes
Fact: Over the past 35 years, it has snowed twice in Miami. So lets do the math. Because 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year, that means that 1,123,535 pregnancies have resulted over the past 35 years, which means it is 563,175 times more likely for a rape to result in pregnancy than it is to see snow in Miami.
Now, if you noticed anything with the two infographics above, there were no “juices,” no snow, and nothing “shut down.” When the violent sperm attacked the scared egg, it still implanted on the helpless uterine wall because the woman’s body was functioning like any normal one would. Now if that doesn’t explain how a pregnancy can result from a “legitimate rape” to Akin, than the man has more problems than we realize.
And here's one more just in case:
Fiction: "If a woman became pregnant, she must have experienced orgasm, and therefore could not have been the victim of an 'absolute rape,'" medical historian Vanessa Heggie (referring to a widespread belief)
Fact: Women don't need to have an orgasm to become pregnant. All you need for conception is an egg and a sperm, so as long as the woman has ovulated (which happens before intercourse) there is nothing standing in the way of pregnancy. If only some people weren't stuck in the past ....
Monday, Aug. 20, 4:15 PM: Akin Apologizes, Obama Rips Akin:
From CBS News: Republican Rep. Todd Akin on Monday apologized for the controversial remarks he made over the weekend about abortion and rape, but he said he has no plans to drop out of the Missouri Senate race despite building pressure from within the GOP.
"What I said was ill-conceived, and it was wrong," Akin said on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's radio show Monday. "I really just want to apologize to those that I've hurt."
Akin's apology came as President Obama suggested the Republican's remarks illustrated the broad differences between Democrats and Republicans on issues like health care and reproductive rights.
"Rape is rape," Mr. Obama told reporters at the daily White House briefing Monday. "And the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we're talking about doesn't make sense to the American people and certainly doesn't make sense to me."
Mr. Obama added that Akin's remarks underscore "why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.
Monday, Aug. 20, 4 PM: BuzzFeed Says Akin Will Withdraw:
Missouri Republican Todd Akin has begun moving toward ending his candidacy after his remarks on rape and abortion provoked a firestorm, a top Republican said.
"Akin is taking concrete steps to withdraw by tomorrow at 5:00 p.m.," a senior Republican told BuzzFeed, adding that Akin could still change his mind.
But a Republican close to Akin said his position hasn't changed: He's still in the race.
Tomorrow afternoon is an important deadline: If he files papers to end his candidacy in Jefferson City tomorrow he can end his candidacy unilaterally; after that, he would have to file an application in court.
Possible Republican replacements, the Republican source said, include three former senators: John Ashcroft, Jim Talent, and Kit Bond. Other names being mentioned include former Ambassador Ann Wagner, who is running for Akin's now-vacant seat; and Auditor Tom Schweich.
PolicyMic conservative political pundit Amy Sterling Casil echos the call for Akin to drop his candidacy:
As Democrats rush to spin the absurd comments of Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin as "the way Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan think" about abortion, women's bodies, etc., this Republican woman has no compunction in concluding that Akin is not qualified to hold public office and should withdraw from the Senate race. The Democrats can save a little money and opponent Claire McCaskill can have free rein to continue her glacially-paced work on behalf of a woman's right to get free birth control pills, or whatever she thinks the job of a U.S. Senator is these days.
I understand that for some, the protection of unborn life trumps every other consideration, under all circumstances. I know two women who were raped, became pregnant, had the babies and raised them as single mothers. Neither of these women should be criticized in any manner because they made this choice — that's the true meaning of "pro choice."
I doubt that's what Akin was talking about. He is beyond confused, and apparently was searching for some justification to deny women who've been victimized the ability to make a different choice. Where his strange concept came from that "women have a way of shutting that down" (i.e. not becoming pregnant) in the case of rape is a mystery.
Anyone who'd think this is true is de-facto, unqualified to serve as a representative in any legislative body governing others. There aren't too many statements that would cause me to make this assessment. Akin's bizarre beliefs show extraordinary, willful ignorance. He learned this weird, false information from doctors? He must have been talking to the same male physician who informed me that "childbirth may be painful."
Yes, just like, after death, people may stop moving. Amputation may cause the loss of a limb. Childbirth may result in the birth of a baby. Pictures of Kate Upton dancing in a bikini may result in arousal among heterosexual males.
Atheists who don't "get" Christians and fear them? Akin is your man. Akin is both an engineer and an ordained minister — and it's almost impossible for me to believe — a Presbyterian. I say this because I know Presbyterians, and don't know any who think God gave women a special way of fixing that ol' rape problem. He has six children, so I'm thinking he knows at least a few things about how babies are made, though I could be wrong about that. In the past, Akin has also spoken out against the "Morning After" pill or "Plan B." Many people who are militant about abortion oppose this medication, because it does prevent development of a very early pregnancy, and they do not care whether or not fertilization actually occurred.
Maybe there is some type of Republican war on women out there, however. Genius Todd Akin and another guy defeated beautiful, brilliant Sarah Steelman in a three-way battle for the Republican senate nomination in Missouri. Way to go, Missouri Republicans. Way to go.
Monday Aug. 20, 9 AM: Clair McCaskill Likes Her Odds, especially after Todd Akin's complete meltdown:
Tea Party-backed Todd Akin, the Republican candidate running for the Senate in Missouri, made a completely over the top claim over the weekend that has everyone talking.
Akin, who is known for his staunch pro-life beliefs, stated that pregnancy is rare from "legitimate rape" because the woman's body has ways to "shut the whole thing down." Not surprisingly those remarks went viral on Twitter and Akin has since released a statement saying that he "misspoke."
This morning I kept reading and watching this statement from Akin over and over again, trying to figure out what on earth is in this guy's head. I get the fact that many people are pro-life regardless of the circumstances, but where did this 'legitimate rape' comment come from? It is not like this was a trick question. Akin is known for being a staunch pro-life supporter, so any time he goes on an interview he must know that the question about abortion in the case of rape might come up.
This is an example of how people with extreme positions try to come up with anything in their own minds to back their point of view. Somehow he believes there is a biological function in a woman's body that stops the reproductive process in cases of "legitimate rape." I don't know where he got this idea from, because it certainly isn't in a scientific or medical journal. What makes the claim even more insane is that Representative Todd Akin currently sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Talk about a mind-blowing revelation!
This, my friends, is what the Tea Party will become should they gain any sort of real power within Washington. I have said before that the Tea Party is a backdoor movement for social conservatives, who may talk a big game about how important spending, the debt, and taxes are today, but their long game is all about social issues. Todd Akin's comments over the weekend only further back my claim that this is what the Tea Party movement is really about — in the long run.
Before it starts, let me stop anyone that wants to try to separate Todd Akin from the Tea Party. His victory in the Republican primary was seen as a major victory for the Tea Party this year. Akin has the support of many Tea Party Republicans such as Michele Bachmann and Steve King, who have become the voice of the Tea Party in Washington today. Todd Akin and the Tea Party are inseparable and that should scare you.
I can only hope that a comment like this coming from someone who is running to be one of one hundred Senators representing the people in the United States would rapidly cause his campaign to spiral downhill and cause him to lose the election. There are some comments and remarks that politicians make on a whim that are A) forgivable and B) understandable. This remark is neither. Furthermore, when you watch the video of Akin giving this response, you can tell that he actually believes what he is saying and that a woman's body will stop a pregnancy from happening in the case of a legitimate rape and thus we shouldn't allow abortion in the case of rape because a woman wouldn't be pregnant if the 'rape' actually happened. It is insane. It is outside the boundaries of rational thought. Someone who can make this claim and believe it has no business in the United States Senate. I can only hope that the people of Missouri will agree.
Monday Post-Analysis: Why Are Female Tea Party Politicians Really Good Looking?
Politics is a swell of appearances, where candidates of all walks try to literally dress up their ideological views with charming smiles of egg-white teeth, perfectly trimmed hair, and crisp suits.
But there are good looking politicians … and then there are really good-looking politicians. The kind of good-looking politicians which have their likeness used inrisque male-oriented videos.
And there seems to be an interesting lean in terms of good-looking political women: towards the Republican side.
It could speak to a priority system amongst Republicans, one which is not in place within Democratic ranks. It’s not a coincidence that prominent Republican woman are attractive, it seems like almost an important prerequisite for Republican voters and politicians to have an attractive candidate (the days of Abe Lincoln are gone, replaced by Romney’s clean demeanor and Scott Brown’s chiseled abs). Michele Bachmann, for all of her deserved political criticism, is a very good looking woman.
On the flip side, many prominent female Democrats are sort of more of these grandmotherly types. These women are put together, coiffed, but older (Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton).
Think about it: Back in 2008 we all talked to someone who just absolutely knew Sarah Palin wasn’t a good Republican VP pick, based on her credentials and inept understanding of the job she was getting into. But they weren’t swayed away from voting for the McCain-Palin ticket. “I mean,” they’d say, “she’s really hot.”
It may be a broad generalization, but there are some interesting political issues that arise from good looking conservative women. In Tuesday night’s Missouri state primaries, for instance, conservative candidate Sarah Steelman, an exceptionally good-looking woman, was absolutely ripped for her beauty.
In the political blog The Greanville Post, the author referred to Steelman as “Bo Derek-beautiful on the outside; ugly as hell on the inside. A common combination in reactionary circles.”
The author extended her comments to all good-looking conservative women, categorizing them as people with “boundless ambition and a sense of entitlement, a sociopathic lack of moral principles and compassion, and a flat, self-complacent intellect characterize them.”
The rant ends: “The devil may wear Prada, sometimes, but it almost always wears a pretty face. “
Sources close to PolicyMic, though, said the demonizing Tea Party label was unfair. Steelman was labor's favorite Republican for her entire time in the state legislature. Her husband was the head of the Missouri trial lawyers. She's never been a Tea Party person. Other than Sarah Palin saying she's Tea Party, most close political analysts in the state have never heard a credible person say she was.
Steelman, 54, is a former state senator and treasurer who lost a Republican primary for governor four years ago. Her father is a former Missouri Republican Party chairman and her husband a former attorney general candidate. She's hardly a political outsider. Still, she ran her campaign on a slogan of "the status quo has got to go." She won (“won” might be the devil in disguise for Steelman) the endorsement of the Tea Party Express and aired a TV ad in which Palin describes her as an economist "who defends our tax dollars like a momma grizzly defends her cubs."
Some grassroots Tea Party activists weren't even that impressed with Steelman’s Tea Party credentials.
"She tried to attach herself to the tea party without actually getting our approval. None of us in the tea party really appreciated that," Jeannine Huskey, 56, of Eureka, told conservative blog Breitbart.com. Steelman lost to Todd Akin on Tueday. But she was a savvy politician who was trying to capitalize on a new conservative wave in the Tea Party.
Is the “Devil wears Prada” moniker appropriate for Tea Party women? One-Hundred percent hell-no; attacking a politician by linking their looks to their ideology is absurd.
Still the Tea Party does count among its ranks Palin, Bachmann and Steelman, all of who are no stranger to controversy.
So why are all of these attractive women grouped in one of the most conservative ideological corners in America, the Tea Party?
"One possible explanation is that people who are seen or consider themselves beautiful tend to be more anti-egalitarian and rightwing," Niclas Berggren, one of three co-authors of a study linking good looks to conservatives, told AFP in 2011.
"We establish two main results. First, we find that the candidates on the right look better than the candidates on the left. Second, we find a greater effect of good looks, in terms of more votes for candidates on the right," the report states.
There you have it.
To add to the debate (for the sake of science … and because liberals probably feel ugly right now), one Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that so-called “low-information voters” — those who watch a lot of TV but who aren’t up-to-date on policy issues — are most likely vote for a candidate based on looks alone.
As Politico reports, for every 10-point increase a candidate gets because of his or her appearance, about half of that increase comes from the voters with the least amount of political knowledge and the most time spent in front of the TV.
So are those who vote for Tea Party women “low-information voters?”
No. That would also be absurd. Bachmann, Palin, and Steelman are smart politicians who have, to their credit, remained loyal to their ideological views and have pushed unique platforms on the U.S. political system.
Good looking women also happen to be conservative. More power to them.
The biggest question we should ask ourselves is: are we being fair to these women? There seems to be a knee-jerk reaction to criticize and mock these women not only for their political beliefs, but also for their looks. That’s not fair. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t judge a politician based on looks. But then again we don’t live in a perfect world. And life isn’t fair. So the sexist comments about good looks and “being the devil” will unfortunately continue to flow.
In the end the big take-away is that you have to give these women props: They’re firey conservatives, and they look good doing it.
The face of the Tea Party just happens to be really, really soft on the eyes.
11:22 PM Amendment 2 wins easily
11:14 PM: Todd Akin Will Win Missouri GOP Primary:
11:10 PM: Missouri Blaming New Election Software For Slow Results:
From the AP: The Missouri secretary of state’s office is blaming new computer software and heavy usage for troubles that people are having viewing election results over the Internet.
The website for Secretary of State Robin Carnahan has been slow to display results from Tuesday’s primary elections.
Carnahan’s office acknowledged the problems in a tweet, stating that the new software and heavy website traffic were slowing down the computer servers. The secretary of state’s office said it is working on a solution.
11:05 PM: NEW NUMBERS: TOO CLOSE TO CALL!
11 PM: Todd Akin still ahead: With nearly 75% of polls reporting, Akin is still holding strong.
10:55 PM: Akin Surging Ahead with nearly three-fourths of all votes reported:
10:45 PM: Who is Todd Akin?
William Todd Akin is the U.S. Representative for Missouri's 2nd congressional district (which includes St. Louis), serving since 2001.
Akin earned a reputation as one of the most conservative members of the Republican caucus. He voted for carrying concealed weapons, voted against the parks and soils sales tax, voted against the 1993 tax increase and education spending increase. Akin sponsored legislation to prohibit casino companies from contributing to Missouri state lawmakers. In 1995, he fought Democrat Governor Mel Carnahan on state-funding for abortion, which Akin opposed.
Akin, who was endorsed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, surged in the final days of Missouri's three-way U.S. Senate Republican primary.
If there was any doubt which Republican Sen. Claire McCaskill wants to run against this fall, a trio of ads she released Thursday put it to rest: The first-term Missouri Democrat’s campaign is up with a new commercial dubbing Rep. Todd Akin as “the most conservative congressman in Missouri” and “Missouri’s true conservative.”
10:36 PM: With Half of All Precincts Reporting, Steelman Is Making a Run:
10:20 PM: Just under 50% reporting now, and we're still seeing Akin keep his lead -- barely:
9:50 PM: With 15% reporting, Akin is making a surprising jump ahead of the other two GOP candidates.
9:30 PM This race is very much up for grabs. With 4% reporting, this looks like it'll go down to the wire.
9:15 PM: Polls had favored Steelman for months, but Brunner, who has run a multi-million dollar self-funded campaign, has closed the gap and recently overtaken Steelman in the polls. A Public Policy Polling (8/4-8/5) survey had Brunner in the lead with 35%, Akin in second at 30%, and Steelman at a shockingly low (and third place) 25%. Two weeks earlier, a Mason-Dixon poll also showed Brunner in the lead at 33%, with Steelman sitting at 27%, and Akin back in third at 17%.
9:10 PM: Why Did Sarah Palin Endorse Sarah Steelman? ABC News reports:
It is no accident that Palin is endorsing more candidates in Senate races.
"She's focused on the senate. That's where she's putting her effort…Obviously they are winning, but I don't think it's just about winning, it's about sending a message. Even if the streak comes to an end she's backing anti establishment people," Bannon, a political analyst, said.
The Steelman endorsement, however, is her riskiest yet. Recent polling in the Show-Me state puts businessman John Brunner in first place, with Steelman trailing by anywhere from six to ten points. There are also signs that Rep. Todd Akin, who is running as the strongest social conservative, is getting some last minute momentum.
So, while the risks of Steelman losing are high, the reward for Palin is even higher. A Steelman win not only gives Palin a perfect score in Republican Senate primaries, but it will also give her an opportunity to once again claim the mantle of "game changer."
9:02 PM: Annnnd some of the U.S. House race results:
9 PM: The race is heating up! Here's a quick snapshot of the Senate race:
8:36 PM: Here's a scathing report on Sarah Steelman from the Greeville Post. Really crushing, especially attacks on good-looking women with conservative principles. "Sociopath" is a term used here, also direct quote: "Steelman: Bo Derek-beautiful on the outside; ugly as hell on the inside. A common combination in reactionary circles." Read for yourself:
The devil may wear Prada, sometimes, but it almost always wears a pretty face. Fools the masses more easily that way. I’m referring, of course, to the battalions of Republican women whose looks remind us more of Barbie dolls, beauty queens, models or tv announcers than political operatives for the vilest political party ever to disgrace this benighted land. (Male specimens also abound of this political disease.)
Boundless ambition and a sense of entitlement, a sociopathic lack of moral principles and compassion, and a flat, self-complacent intellect characterize them. And plenty of hypocrisy, the indispensable career glue for any run-of-the-mill American politician or public figure.
For under those movie-star looks and gleaming, multimillion-dollar smiles, beats the great contradiction: a heart largely devoid of kindness, a moral flaw these people sport (or brag about) among their peers with the banal abandon of someone insulated from real criticism, let alone introspection. Meanwhile, the corporate courtesan media, alternatively cowardly, dull, or outright celebratory of such types, shows no intellectual curiosity to even broach these subjects.
Well, let’s face it: It’s probably a class question. We’re talking about the face of privilege or good fortune, a golden journey that usually starts with a big win on the genetic and birth lottery. Regarding that cold heart, just check the addendum story and video below. It speaks volumes about why these people deserve public rebuke and opprobrium instead of praise and admiration.
8:30 PM: Sorry for the delay on the updates, numbers are a bit sluggish coming in right now. We're still seeing less than 1% of precincts reporting. We'll get you more stats as soon as they come in.
8:10 PM: Polls Are Now Closed, still 0% reporting:
Reminder: Polls close at 8 p.m. EDT
8 PM: Tuesday's Hot Election in Missouri: PolicyMic Pundit Jonathan Karp reports on the ground in Missouri:
In a year of hotly contested elections, early tensions are coming to a head on Tuesday in the Show Me State. The state is home to a nationally significant Senate race this November, a gubernatorial race, and redistricting (in light of the 2010 Census) has forced two Democratic stalwarts in the House to face off over representation of Missouri’s first Congressional district.
Missouri’s senior Senator, Claire McCaskill (D), is up for re-election this year, and though she stands unopposed in the Democratic primary, she will face stiff competition this autumn from an energized Republican base. Missouri Republicans will decide today on the most suitable opponent for November’s general election from a field of three potential candidates: Rep. Todd Akin, former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, and John Brunner. All prospective candidates share a passion for dismantling the Affordable Care Act and a leaner, more efficient, more responsive government. John Brunner is the favorite.
Brunner is far from untouchable though; Steelman and Brunner have weakened each other considerably with attack ads, benefiting the largely ignored Akin. Pundits point to Akin’s popular platform and strong support from the religious base as giving him the potential to overtake Brunner, especially in a primary election that boasts a significant wild card in the controversialAmendment 2.
The amendment in question would extend the right to public prayer (already enshrined in the Missouri constitution) so that “no student shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs." Criticism is wide-ranging, but nearly all citizens agree that it will precipitate an abundance of litigation - State Rep. Chris Kelly has even taken to calling it a "jobs bill for lawyers."
Regardless of the outcome of the senatorial primary, many see this as a likely Republican pickup in the general election. In particular, McCaskill’s support of the stimulus and landmark health care bill have made her a target for Republican donors with deep pockets. All in all, over 2.2 million dollars have been spent by groups outside of Missouri on advertisements leading up to the senatorial primary.
Though incumbent Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon is up for re-election this year, his competition is more scattered than usual following Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s decision to run instead for a third term at his current post. Critics say that Kinder was rendered unelectable after a scandal broke in 2011 involving allegations from a former exotic dancer. The remaining contenders remain relatively unknown: St. Louis businessman Dave Spence, St. Louis investor Fred Sauer, Kansas City lawyer (and former preacher) Bill Randles, and the enigmatic John Weiler. No clear favorite has emerged.
In a race made more interesting by redistricting, incumbent Democratic congressmen Russ Carnahan and William Lacy Clay face off in the primary for the 1st Congressional District of Missouri, serving St. Louis City. Carnahan’s district (the 3rd) was essentially eliminated when Missouri lost one of its original nine districts and lines were redrawn by the Republican-led state legislature. Clay is a six-term representative from the 1st, succeeding his father, William Lacy Clay, Sr., in 2001 and winning all subsequent elections handily. Many foresee that Clay will hold on to the nomination and his seat in the general election.
Overall election turnout is foreseen to be 25% statewide, and eyes are on the state as one of the latest tests of Tea Party ideology, albeit in a Midwestern state with a complicated partisan history. Missouri balances the liberal, urban cores of St. Louis and Kansas City with the traditionally conservative suburbs and “outstate” areas. The state also has a decided libertarian strain that betrays its history on the American frontier.
6:15 PM: Polls of varying credibility differ on who leads the three-way contest, but the last time opinion was measured by a polling firm considered reliable by ABC News, a St. Louis Post-Dispatch survey conducted by Mason-Dixon July 23-25 showed St. Louis businessman John Brunner in a six-percentage-point lead.
6 PM: Break-Down of the MO Political Scene, courtesy of PolicyMic Pundit John Doble:
Missouri: Democrats run the show, with ineffective leadership
The GOP is doing pretty well in Missouri. Despite the government being split between the GOP dominated legislature and Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, they still managed to get nearly half their agenda through and are facing the unusual problem of having recruited too many candidates for office. While this has caused some rather ugly primaries for the governor, Lt. Governor, and Sen. Claire McCaskill’s seats, they’ve avoided deeper divisions by defeating an attempt by Ron Paul partisans to dominate the state convention, and the Tea Party groups have grown weaker along with their candidates. Conversely, the Democrats are on the defensive after redistricting pushed some of their incumbents to face off and after a former Democratic governor was charged for embezzling money for party funds. To top it off, they did not recruit enough candidates this cycle, leaving five state senate and 52 state House races uncontested. While both parties are well integrated with their national counterparts and the presidential campaigns, special interest groups are pouring money into the state, making the Dems’s inability to compete across the whole state is a major hurdle to overcome. While Sen. Claire McCaskill faces weak opponents, and the Governor’s seat is likely to stay Democratic, President Obama will need to fight hard if he hopes to win.
5:20 PM: Steelman Not Really a Tea Party candidate: Steelman was labor's favorite Republican for her entire time in the state legislature. Her husband was the head of the Missouri trial lawyers. She's never been a Tea Party person. Other than Sarah Palin saying she's Tea Party, most close political analysts in the state have never heard a credible person say she was.
Steelman, 54, is a former state senator and treasurer who lost a Republican primary for governor four years ago. Her father is a former Missouri Republican Party chairman and her husband a former attorney general candidate. She's hardly a political outsider as she seeks to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Yet she's running on a slogan of "the status quo has got to go," she has the endorsement of the Tea Party Express and she's airing a TV ad in which Palin describes her as an economist "who defends our tax dollars like a momma grizzly defends her cubs."
Some grassroots tea party activists aren't impressed.
"She tried to attach herself to the tea party without actually getting our approval. None of us in the tea party really appreciated that," Jeannine Huskey, 56, of Eureka, told conservative blog Breitbart.com who is supporting businessman John Brunner.
4:45 PM: The Battle For Amendment 2: Supporters say the so-called "right to pray" ballot measure -- known as Amendment 2 -- better defines Missourians' First Amendment rights and will help to protect the state's Christians, about 80% of the population, who they say are under siege in the public square.
Opponents, meanwhile, say that the religious protections Amendment 2 would offer are already guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, and that it will open the door to all manner of unintended and costly consequences including endless taxpayer-funded lawsuits. State Rep. Chris Kelly, a Democrat who opposed the original legislation, called Amendment 2 "a jobs bill for lawyers."
The measure has already provoked lawsuits over its ballot wording, which plaintiffs argue is a Trojan horse attack on the state's 200-year-old protections for religious minorities, public education and church-state separation. Those lawsuits failed in Missouri's courts, and the measure's ballot wording will stand as written.
A poll by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch of 625 registered Missouri voters found that if the primary had been held last week, 82% would have voted in favor of Amendment 2, while just 14% would have voted "no," with 4% undecided.
2:20 PM: From the Washington Post: The latest polling of the race shows Brunner leading, but it’s anybody’s ballgame, and Akin appears to be the momentum candidate (what’s more, his base, religious conservatives, may be the most reliable voter bloc). Democrats seem to think getting Akin through the primary would do wonders for them, and they’vespent a bunch of money in the GOP primary trying to make that happen. The congressman gives them an opening as someone who is very conservative, doesn’t have a history of tough campaigns, isn’t terribly compelling personally and, perhaps most notably, has declined to go negative in his campaign. That could be a recipe for success for McCaskill.
12 PM: MO Turning Into Tuesday's Big News: "GOP picking a nominee for Missouri's Senate race," by AP's Henry C. Jackson: "Republicans have long considered Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri one of their top targets in the Senate this year. They just didn't know who her opponent would be. GOP voters will decide among three contenders -- Sarah Palin-backed Sarah Steelman, businessman John Brunner, and Rep. Todd Akin, who was endorsed by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee -- in the marquee contest in Tuesday's state primaries. No clear favorite has emerged in a primary race that will set up one of November's most anticipated Senate contests. ...
11:30 AM: An on-ground look at the Show-ME situation, from PolicyMic pundit Adam Lodes:
There are two main issues in Missouri in these elections. One is an interesting amendment to the state constitution to secure individual religious liberties. Amendment 2 is also known as the "right to pray" bill and is about securing the right to practice religious beliefs in public places, specifically schools and government meetings. A pro-argument can be read here, and an against argument can be read here. What I find most interesting is the details, where the devil resides. The language presented in front of voters is a three sentence summary of the proposed amendment. The actual written version is much more specific, and has some things which paradoxically at best protect rights that are already protected and at worst force religion on people and disrupt school curriculums. There have even been court cases to try to change the wording of the amendment, and even some speculation that the Missouri legislature is trying to pull a fast one on Missourians by putting this on the primary election where there will be poor turnout (expected to be about 25% of registered voters at best).
But by far the most important decision of the Missouri primaries is the Republican nomination of the Senate race against incumbent Claire McCaskill (D). The Republican primary is essentially a three way race betweenRep. Todd Akin, businessman newcomer John Brunner, and former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman.
Todd Akin is basically a conservative Republican and has been serving as a U.S. representative for the largely populated St Louis suburbs. He is pro-gun rights, outspoken against abortion and stem cell research, and supposedly against increased taxation and spending. He sits on several committees associated with defense, and science and technology.
John Brunner, in my opinion is not too much unlike Mitt Romney, other than he doesn’t have political experience. It shows in the debates, but Missourians are generally supporting him because he seems to have a good record in business and everyone wants the economy to get better.
Sarah Steelman, who I will be voting for, has been in Missouri politics for a while, notably losing the Republican nomination for governor back in 2008. She came across as a very educated woman, and slight Tea Party tendencies even back then. Now she has tried to play more into Tea Party hands, which parts of Missouri will respond to. Additionally she is able to articulate her arguments very well, (her explanation of how corn subsidies and ethanol subsidies should be eliminated was very well thought out and scientific, which I find amazing because in Missouri grows some corn in key rural areas which are heavily republican).
Their impending November opponent, Claire McCaskill, has been at the side of our President Barack Obama since his days as a senator from Illinois, and has been one of his strongest supporters since. She has heavily supported the president in health care and stimulus spending, which are easy targets for her November opponent. In my opinion she really hasn’t flip-flopped on too many issues and is generally a better politician than most. She will be tough to unseat, but general public unrest and a poor economy will also be running against her.
The November election for this Senate race will undoubtedly help decide control of the Senate, and if Steelman wins she will certainly side with many of the Tea Partiers, which is growing stronger and more vocal. Todd Akin will certainly give McCaskill good competition as well, as he has significant backing from the GOP national party. Although if it is worth anything to you, Steelman has backing from Sarah Palin.
So far the primaries haven’t drawn much interest amongst my friends, but Amendment 2 to the state constitution should draw some in.