Poll: McCaskill holding 4-point lead over Akin in Mo. Senate race

Public Policy Polling’s final Missouri survey shows Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill holding on to a slim lead over GOP challenger Rep. Todd Akin. 

The poll from the Democratic-leaning outlet finds McCaskill with 48 percent support to Akin’s 44. Those numbers show a 2-point boost for McCaskill and a 4-point increase in Akin’s support from the last PPP poll taken two weeks ago. Libertarian candidate Jonathan Dine enjoys 6 percent support.

Republicans had hopes that Akin could unseat McCaskill, but the lawmaker lost ground after controversial remarks on abortion and “legitimate rape.” Akin drew harsh criticism from fellow Republicans, but rebuffed calls for him to stand down from the race. Akin has continued his campaign, relying on grassroots support.

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Polls in recent days have shown him gathering strength as his campaign and groups supporting him have launched a $1.75 million ad blitz in the final days of the race.

An internal Republican poll last week showed the candidates tied, while another independent poll said Akin was down by only 2 points.

Democrats, though, contest those polls, with Akin’s own internal survey showing her up double digits. The Real Clear Politics average of polls shows McCaskill up 5, with 47.8 to 42.8 support.

The latest PPP poll finds that Akin’s image has little improved since the controversy over his comments first erupted, with his favorability rating at 29 percent, with 56 unfavorable. Those numbers represent his worst split in the PPP poll to date.

But there are signs GOP voters are rallying behind him. He now receives support from 79 percent of Republicans, up from 74 in the last poll. Akin has also pulled even with independents at 46 percent.

Akin still faces a gender gap with McCaskill up 55-38 among women and Akin up 52-38 among men. 

The Missouri poll also finds strong support for GOP nominee Mitt Romney, who holds 53 percent support to Obama’s 45. Obama has a net unfavorability rating in the state at 41 approval, 52 disapproval, while Romney is up 52-40 favorable.

Romney’s lead in the state is buoyed by his edge among independents at 57 to 38 over Obama.

The PPP poll was conducted from Nov. 2 to 3 and has a 3.4-percent margin of error.