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Roll Call

Double Dose of Good News for Claire McCaskill Ahead of Debate

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill received two pieces of good news shortly before the final Senate debate in Missouri tonight.

First, the Associated Press reported on the disappointing third-quarter fundraising total of her GOP challenger, Rep. Todd Akin. Shortly thereafter, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a poll, which it commissioned, showing McCaskill leading by 12 points.

According to the AP, Akin raised about $1.6 million in the third quarter and had $553,000 in cash on hand as of the Monday filing deadline. Akin’s campaign declined requests from several media outlets, including Roll Call, to release figures earlier, an indication that his total was likely to be significantly lower than the $5.8 million that McCaskill reported raising in the same quarter.

Akin is using the opposition of much of the national Republican leadership to try to raise money. An online fundraising pitch today features photos of National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas), Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Crossroads GPS founder Karl Rove.

“Donate now to show the party bosses that even though they may want Claire McCaskill to win, YOU DON’T!” the pitch says.

McCaskill received an influx of support after Akin made comments suggesting that the female body can somehow avoid pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.” A liberal super PAC sent mailers targeting those comments to Missouri voters.

The new DSCC poll lines up with internal numbers from the McCaskill campaign showing her with a double-digit lead. The poll by Harstad Strategic Research surveyed 603 likely voters and showed McCaskill leading Akin 47 percent to 35 percent when including Libertarian Jonathan Dine as an option. Dine got 8 percent. The McCaskill poll did not include Dine. The DSCC poll shows McCaskill ahead by 10 points without Dine.

A memo from the polling firm did not identify the party breakdown in the survey but said the poll had a 4-point margin of error and was completed Wednesday.

“The fact is that Republicans viewed Claire McCaskill as their leading prospect to defeat an incumbent Democratic senator in 2012,” the Democratic pollsters write. “Now, with only 19 days left to the election, it is nearly impossible for Todd Akin to win this seat, given that voters have begun to learn the truth about this Republican congressman.”

Republican polls have shown a vastly different race, with Akin leading in those surveys by a few points. Outside polls show the race favoring McCaskill by slightly less than the Democratic polls.

Dine is not participating in the debate tonight in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton. The debate will air on KDSK in St. Louis, overlapping with the start of a Cardinals playoff baseball game — meaning many likely voters may see only highlights and sound bites.

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