In the final 48 hours before Tuesday's election, incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill had one message for Missouri voters: Don’t let Todd Akin be the voice for our state.
This direct, targeted attack on Rep. Akin flooded TV stations and airwaves all day Sunday and Monday, as the sitting senator sought to solidify her narrow lead. Voters I spoke with in Kansas City on Monday appreciated the message, with one woman saying it was important to “beat people over the head with his idiocy.”
But just as he has throughout the whole race, Rep. Akin continued to rely on the comfort of his conservative base in the face of state and national criticism.
As you might have seen, Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flint took after Donald Trump last week, and offered Todd Akin $1 million if he could prove his statements that female bodies can prevent pregnancies after rape. Akin has continued to deflect this challenge saying “So, Larry Flint, the guy who made his money exploiting women with pornography is putting a million dollars on the line. So, he’s basically the spokesman for the Democrat party when it comes to women’s issues? I think that’s amazing.” He did not attempt to offer any scientific evidence.
And so, with eight hours to go in one of the nastiest Senate races in recent memory, both candidates are relying on their side turning out more. McCaskill continues to count on the urban counties at either end of the state, while Akin is confident in high turnout in Southwest Missouri. As soon as the exit polls become available, I believe that this will be an accurate picture of how the state shakes out.
But with so much on the line, attention was not solely focused on outcome. During brief remarks to some of her volunteers, Senator McCaskill made a point to stick to her message about ensuring Todd Akin doesn’t speak for Missourians, but she also focused on the big picture. While thanking us for our hard work on her behalf, she noted the hard work we had done for the democratic process as a whole; that citizen engagement is what elections are all about, regardless of what side you’re on.
I believe too many legislators forget this cornerstone of our political system, and it was incredibly refreshing to hear that from an elected office in the fight of her life.