Depending on how the votes fall, the U.S. Senate race in Missouri could either confirm a former “purple” state as definitely red, or bring yet another costly loss for Republicans held back from a Senate majority by underperforming far-right conservatives.
During the Republican candidates’ run toward the right in the primaries, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, an idiosyncratic moderate, positioned herself to face the evangelical U.S. Rep. Todd Akin – whose “legitimate rape” comments later severed much outside Republican support as he refused calls to step down from the race. For her part, McCaskill has occasionally been troubled by allegations of ethical lapses and financial improprieties by her husband.
A loss for Akin would deliver more headaches for Missouri Republicans, who have seen this former presidential swing state go safely red in recent years without a corresponding sweep of other top state offices. Some polls projected the governor’s race to swing toward centrist Democratic incumbent Jay Nixon; earlier in the race, a top Republican challenger, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, stepped aside following multiple minor scandals.