PPP's newest poll of the Missouri Senate race finds Claire McCaskill expanding her lead to 6 points. She's at 46% to 40% for Todd Akin and 9% for Libertarian Jonathan Dine. On our last poll of the race, in late August, McCaskill had led by only a single point.
Todd Akin's image is not seeing any recovery even with six weeks having passed since his controversial comments. 33% of voters see him favorably to 55% with an unfavorable opinion. Those numbers are essentially unchanged from our last poll when he was at 33/56. Republicans still give him pretty high marks. 65% see him favorably to 23% with an unfavorable opinion, suggesting that they actually still like him and aren't just voting for him grudgingly. But his reviews from independents (28/59) and Democrats (7/84) are pretty dreadful.
One interesting development over the last month in this race is that Claire McCaskill's own popularity has actually improved. 44% of voters approve of her and 49% disapprove, up from a 40/55 spread in late August. The reason for that change is that Democrats are really rallying around her. She now has an 89/8 approval rating within her own party, up from a 73/23 standing last time. And that's where the shift in the horse race is coming from as well. She now gets 91% of the Democratic vote, up from 81% on our previous poll. The numbers with Republicans and independents are pretty steady.
Despite McCaskill's lead there's still reason to think this will be a competitive race. By a 50/42 margin voters would rather Republicans had control of the US Senate next year than the Democrats. Right now Akin's only winning 78% of the vote among people who wanted a GOP controlled Senate, compared to the 95% McCaskill's getting with folks who want a Democratic controlled Senate. It's possible as election day nears that more people who want the GOP in charge will suck it up and vote for Akin even though they don't like him.
The other reason to think this race could still end up pretty close is who the 14% of voters either undecided or leaning toward voting for the Libertarian candidate are. They are overwhelmingly conservative voters, who support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama for President by a 66/9 margin. They'd like for the Republicans to be in charge of the Senate by a 65/14 spread. If these folks actually ended up voting for the candidate of the party they want in charge Akin would be up by one point. It's not likely they'll move en masse to Akin in that way, but it is possible and that's why this race is still worth keeping an eye on.
-93% of Missouri voters think you can get pregnant from being raped to 4% who think you can't and 4% who are unsure.
-Only 27% of voters think McCaskill is 'un-ladylike' as Akin suggested last week.
Missouri doesn't look like it will be terribly competitive in the Presidential race this year. Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama 51-45 in the state. That's an improvement for Obama from deficits of 10 and 12 points in our last two polls but still doesn't suggest it will see the kind of close margin it did in 2008.
Obama simply continues to be very unpopular with Missouri voters. Only 43% approve of the job he's doing to 53% who disapprove. And Romney's crushing him on who voters trust more to handle the economy, 53/42.
Full results here