Following up on this morning’s post and the whole Todd Akin-rape-abortion mess:
1. A lot of people — including Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chair of the National Republican Senate Committee, are calling for Akin to resign the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate so the party can name someone else. Akin has said today that he will not. Fox News has a source inside the NRSC who says that Cornyn threatened to withhold the $5 million it had set aside to help the nominee pick up that (currently Dem-held) seat. That’s what a source says Cornyn told Akin, but for public consumption Cornyn put out a statement calling Akin’s remarks “wrong, offensive, and indefensible,” and urged Akin to “carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the Republican Party, and the values that he cares about.” Akin might like to wait a while to see if this blows over but he is under tremendous pressure to decide within 24 hours because of a fluke in Missouri election law.
As Roll Call notes:
If Rep. Todd Akin (R) does drop his Missouri Senate bid within the next 24 hours, as the GOP establishment is pressuring him to do, at least his timing will be impeccable.
Missouri state law allows a nominated candidate to withdraw his or her bid for office by 5 p.m. on the 11th Tuesday before the election which, as it turns out, is tomorrow. If Akin does drop his bid before tomorrow’s deadline, the state’s GOP central committee would pick his replacement.
This statutory fact alone is why Republicans — from National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) to presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) — are coalescing around a 24-hour ultimatum.
2. It turns out that the kind of blame-the-rape-victims pseudo-scientific quackery Akin cited has been around for a while and is widespread. Four months ago, when an Idaho state senator suggested that a lot of women falsely claim rape when they get pregnant, BuzzFeed assembled this anthology of related falsehoods that seek to make the issue of pregnancy-by-rape go away. In case you don’t click through, it starts with a federal judge who wrote that pregnancies caused by rape ” occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami.” It includes a congressman who said that when women are raped pregnancy is unlikely because “the juices don’t flow” and a Pennsylvania state representative who said in 1988 that during a rape, women “secrete a certain secretion” that tends to kill sperm.
3. Amy Davidson of the New Yorker dashed off a hard-hitting post fisking Akins’ statement. I liked the Davidson piece because, beyond mocking Akins’ assertion of the magical sperm-blocking powers of rape victims, she also zeroed on the whole “legitimate rape” vs. “illegitimate rape” theme.
4. As far as the potential impact on the overall race for control of the U.S. Senate, here are some numbers, based on the current Rothenberg Political Report rankings of Senate races.
The current Senate has 53 Dems (including two who are not technically Dems but who caucus with them. But the Dems are defending 23 of 33 seats that are on the ballot, which means the Repubs have a lot more pickup opportunities.
Before yesterday, conventional wisdom favored Akin to beat Dem incumbent Sen. Clair McCaskill. Rothenberg listed the race as “toss-up/leans Republican.”
If all of the races went the way Rothenberg was rating them heading into last weekend, it would create a Senate of 48 Republicans, 47 Democrats and five toss-ups. (The toss-ups are in Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin.) That would mean that Dems would need to win three of the five toss-ups just to end up with 50 votes (which would be enough to maintain bare control, if the Obama-Biden ticket wins, since the vice president holds the tie-breaking 101st vote.) If the Akin mess turns Missouri back into a pure toss-up or better for the Dems, it would be a big gift to them.