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Steve Kornacki's latest article: Can Todd Akin still win?

The best measure of what an uphill reelection battle Claire McCaskill has faced this year is probably this: Her opponent’s matter-of-fact assertion in a television interview that most victims of “legitimate” rape are biologically incapable of getting pregnant from it probably elevates their race to toss-up status – at best.

There’s been one independent poll taken since Todd Akin scored an upset victory in Missouri’s August 8 GOP Senate primary, and it put the six-term congressman 11 points ahead of McCaskill. That survey was released in the immediate wake of the primary, and even if you think it was an outlier, there was good reason to believe the basic proposition that  Akin was ahead. After all, polling in the run-up to the primary had consistently shown every GOP candidate consistently leading McCaskill.

This is testament to the increasingly red tint of Missouri, a state that Bill Clinton carried twice in the 1990s but that swung back to the Republicans in 2000 and has stayed there since, even amidst Barack Obama’s dominant national victory in 2008. This year, the stategenerally isn’t considered part of the White House battleground, which helps explain why McCaskill, who won her seat in the anti-Bush tide of 2006, is in such jeopardy.

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