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Akin Struggles to Hold On to US Senate Nomination in Missouri

Todd Akin is clearly taking on water for his comments about abortion, pregnancy and rape, which actually reflected a fairly common viewpoint among the anti-choice movement that rarely gets mentioned outside their little cliques. But the question becomes whether he can survive and continue to stay on as the nominee for Senate in Missouri.

Let’s stipulate up top that it’s very, very difficult to oust a nominee. If Sharron Angle and Ken Buck and Christine O’Donnell were able to stay on their respective tickets during the 2010 election, then surely a Todd Akin, who’s a sitting member of the House, can do so.

However, the Republican establishment, scarred by the missed opportunities of 2010 and aware that control of the Senate could hinge on the Akin race against Claire McCaskill, is certainly giving this a college try. Today Scott Brown became the first major legislator to urge Akin to drop out of the Senate race, joining several Republican strategists and commentators. Mitt Romney super-sized his response to Akin’s remarks, calling them “insulting, inexcusable, and, frankly, wrong.” And numerous GOP Senate candidates have piled on to the condemnation.

Claire McCaskill, on the other hand, told MSNBC that it would be unprecedented to remove the duly elected nominee for a Senate race. She understands the political damage of Akin’s comments, and doesn’t want to let the GOP off the hook through a substitution. “I really think that for the national party to try to come in here and dictate to the Republican primary voters that they’re going to invalidate their decision, that would be pretty radical. told MSNBC Monday. “I think there could be a backlash for the Republicans if they did that.” McCaskill said.

The DCCC is twisting the knife as well, asking Speaker John Boehner to remove Akin from the House Science Committee, where he improbably sits.

Ultimately, Akin would have to be the good soldier and leave the nomination for the greater good. And since he’s in the lead in all polls (we’ll see where that ends up after these comments), and regardless of this situation still has a good chance to win a six-year term, I don’t see why he would ever step down.

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David Dayen

David Dayen