Claire McCaskill will face her preferred opponent in the Missouri Senate general election, Todd Akin. McCaskill created an advertisement during the primary which touted Akin’s conservative credentials but concluded that he is too conservative for Missouri.
Akin is undoubtedly conservative, but apparently not so conservative for the Missouri public that they do not prefer him to McCaskill by a three point margin according to the RealClearPolitics average. That polling is from before Akin won the Republican primary, so it remains to be seen if he can bring the supporters of the other Republican contenders into his fold.
Akin is in a unique position because he is one of the few competitive candidates this cycle for a statewide office who make religious conservatism a visible component of his campaign. This could play well in a state like Missouri, which is more conservative than the nation as a whole. Missouri was the only battleground state that McCain managed to win in 2008, and then only narrowly. In 2010, Missouri elected to the Senate former Congressman Roy Blunt, who represented a conservative, Springfield Mo. based district. Akin, therefore, has a favorable blueprint to follow on his path to the Senate.
Missouri also provides hints about the possible outcome of the Wisconsin Senate Primary. Like Missouri, Wisconsin involves a fractured field of Republicans competing go take over a Democratic-controlled seat. Unlike Missouri, Wisconsin is more liberal than the nation as a whole so an Akin style candidate is unlikely to succeed in Wisconsin. Akin previously served as a US Congressman since 2001, so he is not a novice politician. Akin follows in the Republican Senate primary trend of Richard Mourdock, who had conservative fiscal policy oriented rhetoric and previous electoral experience as Indiana treasurer. Unlike the batch of Tea Party candidates in 2010 who had more political novices, challengers this cycle have more experience. In Wisconsin, voters will have to decide between candidates who have previous electoral experience (Thompson and Neumann) against the novice businessman Hovde.