Friday, August 31, 2012

McCaskill Trots Out Liberal Pollster to Present False Perception of Tightening Race

When a Rasmussen poll was released last week showing Claire McCaskill had jumped out to a 10 point lead on her opponent Todd Akin after he made controversial comments about rape and abortion she claimed they were laughable.
“Rasmussen poll made me laugh out loud,” McCaskill tweeted. “If anyone believes that, I just turned 29. Sneaky stuff.” [1]

You'd think such an insurmountable lead would have Claire jumping for joy.  So why come out and attack the poll?  One word, funding.

While the McCaskill campaign has not yest released campaign finance reports for the period after the controversy started, several major donors have stopped supporting Akin.  Other key figures in the GOP have called on him to drop out of the race.
Romney and Senate GOP leaders urged Akin to step aside and pulled funds from what they once considered a sure pickup. [3]
Amid calls for Akin to drop out and the loss of financial backing an air of inevitability began to circle Claire's re-election prospects.  Fearing this would result in a loss of donations for her campaign as well McCaskill released her attack dogs.  The press secretary of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee jumped in to try and debunk the poll results showing their chosen candidate up by such a large margin.

"Everyone knows that Rasmussen is a tool of the Republican establishment in Washington," alleged Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee press secretary Shripal Shah in a comment to The Hill, a Washington publication. [2]
Unfortunately, Rasmussen wasn't the only poll showing McCaskill up by such a large margin.  A St. Louis Post-Dispatch/News 4 poll released days later also showed her up by 9 points.

More than half of Missouri voters now view the Republican congressman unfavorably, the poll indicates, and fewer than one in five view him favorably.
Akin's fall is especially dramatic among women. They were about evenly split between Akin and McCaskill in a similar poll at the end of July, but women now oppose him by almost 20 percentage points. Even in rural areas where Akin retains the lead, his support has dropped significantly from a month ago.
A Washington pollster told the Post-Disptach just how difficult it will be for Akin to make up such a large gap.
"I've seen plenty of challengers nine points down come back and win, but not with this many obstacles," including loss of party support and funding nationally, said pollster J. Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of Washington, which conducted the poll for the Post-Dispatch and KMOV-TV. "It's not a rosy picture."
Now two weeks after the controversy, it would be clearly evident to the McCaskill campaign whether their lead were hurting their fundraising.  That might explain why they contacted the notoriously left leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) to conduct a new poll on the race.
According to the survey by Public Policy Polling, Mrs. McCaskill has support from 45 percent of likely Missouri voters compared with 44 percent for Mr. Akin, a result that differs strongly from polls conducted last week by other firms. [4]
Does Claire and other Democrats really expect Missourians to believe that her 10 point lead evaporated in less than a week even though there has been a non-stop assault on Akin's comments throughout that time period?  Why would she be so concerned with raising money if it appears she has already sewn up the election more than two months out?

Perhaps this has something to do with it.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, there are 25 senators and representatives this year who have announced their retirement and who are collectively sitting on $31 million in authorized campaign committee cash.
While the F.E.C. clearly says campaign committee cash can't be tapped for personal use, there are no such stipulations for certain political action committees, most controversially "leadership PACs" that elected officials can use to support various political causes other than their own. [5]

McCaskill's retirement may seem like a far fetched idea just a few weeks away from he re-election.  However, McCaskill will turn 60 years old next year.  Her next term will last for 6 years, making her 65 years old for a potential 2018 re-election campaign.  She has to wonder if she will have the energy to go through another tough campaign, which will undoubtedly be against a much tougher opponent then Todd Akin.

Vice President Joe Biden believes, "Obama has no better friend than Clair McCaskill," so, it's conceivable that if he also wins re-election a second-term appointment in his cabinet may be a strong possibility.  For Claire, it appears her 2012 campaign fundraising is no longer about winning elections, but about funding her retirement. 

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