Sept. 30, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Missouri Scrambles GOP Path to Senate Majority

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Unless GOP Rep. Todd Akin changes his mind about staying in the Missouri race, vulnerable Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill will face an opponent without any support from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senate leaders and the party's presidential ticket.

Republican Rep. Connie Mack IV, the son and namesake of a former Florida Senator, is waging an uphill campaign against two-term Sen. Bill Nelson (D).

Navarro explained that the Sunshine State Senate race has recently grown more competitive.

"Florida has moved up in feasibility. It went from no shot in hell turning Republican to now being far more competitive," she said. "You're gonna have upwards of $10 million in disposable cash that had been allocated to Missouri that's going to need a home."

In addition to the NRSC, American Crossroads, the sister organization of Crossroads GPS, also said it has no plans to spend in Missouri if Akin stays in the race.

Akin, first elected to the House in 2000, is a candidate who has never been a particularly strong fundraiser, especially by the standards of a hard-fought Senate campaign. So it's a particular blow that he will now run without the national party's resources or imprimatur.

As for the incumbent, expect the McCaskill campaign to stick to its original anti-Akin playbook, highlighting instances where he is outside Missouri's mainstream and promoting McCaskill as a moderate, independent voice for the state.

And with Akin's inflammatory comments about rape on video, McCaskill should have an easy time making that case to voters. Now that he is, in effect, a Republican without a party, Akin is unlikely to have the resources to properly push back.

While the dynamics of the race have shifted significantly in favor of McCaskill over the past few days, Roll Call continues to rate the Missouri race as a Tossup - for now. We'll reassess our rating as the dust settles from the Akin flap heading into next week's Republican National Convention.

What we do know is that 76 days is a long time to go before Election Day. And, Missouri is not Delaware, where Republicans wrote off a given Senate pickup opportunity after a fatally flawed candidate won the GOP primary last cycle.  

Missouri remains a conservative state, and McCaskill, who was an early and strong supporter of President Barack Obama, still has weaknesses.

The question is whether Akin on his own, without party support and strategic advice, will have ample resources to exploit them.

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