Rep. Todd Akin's comments on rape played big at the polls among both women and men voters, helping Senator McCaskill win by nearly 15 percentage points a race she had been expected to lose.
Most voters in exit polls said that they gave the comments on rape and abortion by Rep. Todd Akin (R) of Missouri "some consideration" in the voting booth – and that those who did overwhelmingly sided with Senator McCaskill. The comments angered both women and men, who were only slightly less likely than women to back the incumbent.
In the end, McCaskill won with a 15 percentage-point margin a race she had been expected to lose by at least that much.
As a freshman senator, her voting record was out of sync with a state trending increasingly Republican. McCaskill's early and public support of President Obama, who lost the state twice, her backing for the 2009 stimulus and 2010 health-care reform known as Obamacare, as well as ethical issues involving taxes and improper payments didn't help. By mid-summer, she was limping into a general election with a 40 percent job approval rating and trailing Representative Akin by double digits in the polls.
But Akin's toxic comments in an August television interview that pregnancy is rare in cases of "legitimate rape," because "the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down" went viral on the Internet and gave a new face to the campaign.