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With Akin Staying In, NRSC Says They’ll Withhold Funds

Just to carry over from the last post, Todd Akin will stay in his Senate race in Missouri, saying that he’s received “tremendous grassroots support” over the last 48 hours. That will have to suffice for the time being, however.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has been leading efforts to force Akin out, said in a statement about Akin that “if he continues with this misguided campaign, it will be without the support and resources of the NRSC.” This means he will be cut off from any outside funding from the main Senate Republican campaign arm. I would imagine the RNC would follow suit; they have enough to do trying to get Mitt Romney elected, and they would be unlikely to cross the NRSC. Similarly, Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS unit, which has been spending millions beating up on Claire McCaskill in Missouri, has pulled out. Akin would have to win the race by relying entirely on his own resources, while McCaskill would probably have at her disposal substantial outside support from women’s groups.

What the NRSC is really doing is to try and tighten the money spigot, cutting Akin off from funding. They’re probably discouraging donors to give to Akin too. It will be harder to get Akin off the ballot after today, but it’s still possible. So the NRSC must be in possession of private polling or some information that Akin simply cannot win, and that their only chance is to drive him out.

But Akin is really calling the bluff of the big hitters in the Republican Party. He said he would not get out of the race, and everyone knows that, with the expected closeness of the Senate, the Missouri seat will end up being crucial. If Akin holds his poll numbers – a big if – will the NRSC and Crossroads REALLY stay out of the state? I seriously doubt it.

The saving grace for the NRSC is actually a sign of a bigger problem – they have more races getting away from them than they expected, meaning more money they might have to devote elsewhere. The Nevada and Indiana elections are basically deadlocked. So is North Dakota, improbably. Massachusetts will be a big fight, although the truce on outside ads is holding there for the time being. Montana and Virginia were always going to be close. Republicans have other paths to a Senate majority without Missouri, although it’ll be more difficult. More to the point, they have other places to devote their resources.

If you looked at the Senate map at the beginning of the year, you would not believe that Democrats had a chance of keeping the majority, let alone PICKING UP seats. But that’s actually possible now, thanks to the cast of characters Republicans have assembled for the challenge.

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David Dayen

David Dayen