Princeton Election Consortium

A first draft of electoral history. Since 2004

Missouri, another competitive Senate race?

August 20th, 2012, 9:45am by Sam Wang


Todd Akin (R), running for Senate in Missouri, said that victims of “legitimate rape” can’t get pregnant. The repetition of this old myth is very damaging. Senator Claire McCaskill (D), until now lagging in polls, may get a second chance.

Republicans might be surprised to learn that I now upgrade the advisability of supporting Akin (www.akin.org). Why? Donations make the greatest difference in races that are on the edge. Akin was ahead by a median of 7% (1 poll before the Aug. 7 primary, 1 after). The race just got a lot closer.

In addition to MO and the seven races I listed before (ActBlue NRSC), another race maybe worth keeping an eye on is Carmona (D) vs. Flake (R) in AZ. The Votemaster comments.

Update: in comments, The Political Omnivore asks if there could be a way to quantify the magnitude of a gaffe, for instance using Twitter to see if an idea is “sticky.” An interesting challenge.

Tags: 2012 Election · Senate

3 Comments so far ↓

  • LondonYoung

    To be filed under “other things math can be used for in politics”: After one accounts for the raw poll lead, are some election more susceptible to additional spending than others? Intuitive point number one is that the less well funded a race, the more valuable one more dollar is. Can we put a curve around that? Next, are the outcomes of races between moderates/extremists more or less susceptible to extra spending?

  • Olav Grinde

    Well, in Missouri there are two questions:

    1) Will Akin’s gaffe swing voters to vote for McCaskill?

    2) Will Akin’s gaffe motivate more people to vote at all, out of fury?

  • The Political Omnivore

    I would love to see some ratings of gaffe-magnitude. Silver says it costs about a 5% shift when the gaffe sticks. I wonder if some of the newer stuff like the Twitter political index can give insight into why a gaffe “sticks” or doesn’t (i.e. causes a major shift or fails to).

    From what I can see the presidential race has been a succession of dueling gaffes until now that Medicare has become the bullseye. I would really like to see the money-ball analysis of whether that’s a better vote-mover than the other stuff.