Missouri: Voters Want a GOP-Led Senate, but Support Claire McCaskill Over Todd Akin

New polls measuring the Missouri Senate race show Sen. Claire McCaskill in the lead. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Newly available polls show Republican Rep. Todd Akin still has an uphill battle in the Missouri Senate race, but there may be a window to nationalize the election.

A new poll by Rasmussen Reports, a polling firm that Democrats say often favors the GOP, showed Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) ahead of Akin 51 percent to 45 percent among likely voters.

The Rasmussen poll question excluded references to any other candidates, although there is young Libertarian candidate, Jonathan Dine, in the race and on the debate stage. The survey had 4.5-point margin of error.

Although the Rasmussen survey showed just 3 percent of voters undecided, swing voters in the contest may be deciding between Akin and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) more than between Akin and McCaskill.

That seems to be the implication from the new poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, which found that 50 percent of Missourians surveyed want the Republicans to take control of the Senate, compared with 42 percent favoring a Democratic hold. McCaskill had a 49 percent disapproval rating in that survey.

In the Senate poll, McCaskill had a 6-point lead over Akin, who has a record of making inaccurate and what are generally viewed as inappropriate statements. McCaskill had 46 percent compared to Akin's 40 percent. Dine took 9 percent in the PPP poll, with others undecided.

That poll had a margin of error of 3.7 points.

How those Dine voters and other undecideds break could help determine the outcome of the race, which could be a test of the ability of Republicans to nationalize the contest without making a serious effort to back Akin.

The national GOP  infrastructure has largely stayed out of it, with Akin relying on outside groups and movement conservatives to bankroll his campaign  since he made comments about "legitimate" rape and his more recent remarks about McCaskill not acting "ladylike."

An internal poll for the McCaskill campaign that circulated Monday showed her ahead 50 percent to 41 percent in a tracking survey that concluded Sept. 30. It does not appear that the internal poll included Dine as an option.

McCaskill has gone on offense against Akin on not only the impolitic statement, but also against his views on Congressionally-directed spending projects known as earmarks. Roll call rates the race as Leans Democratic.