Don't count Mourdock out

Richard Mourdock, the Republican candidate for Senate in Indiana, was cruising along with a 5-point lead over his Democratic opponent Rep. Joe Donnelly when he opined during a debate that when a rape happened “it was what God intended.”

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His foray into theology almost cost him the election — and the Republicans yet another seat in the Senate, much as how Todd Akin’s recent comment that "legitimate" rape does not induce pregnancy has potentially delivered the Missouri seat to incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillSenators question need for HHS cyber office Overnight Cybersecurity: Obama DHS chief defends Russian hack response | Trump huddles on grid security | Lawmakers warned about cyber threat to election systems We must protect our most vulnerable from financial fraudsters MORE.

But not so fast! The polling reflects that Mourdock is alive and kicking and may be able yet to keep the Indiana seat Republican. John McLaughlin, Mourdock’s pollster, found the race tied at 44 to 44 percent on Tuesday night — the night of his infamous comment. As of Wednesday night, he had the race still tied at 44-44.

Mourdock’s comment has not received the focus that Akin’s remarks did, partly because now there is far more clutter in the political environment. Unlike Akin, he was not declared anathema (another foray into theology) by the Republican elders or even by Mitt Romney. The presidential hopeful said that he did not agree with Mourdock’s comments, but let an ad endorsing him continue to run in Indiana, a state he is carrying by 15 points.

So all is not lost. Despite himself, Mourdock still has a solid chance of winning. He is a reliable conservative and, as we have seen, honest to a fault, and deserves all the support he can get. Simply put, we need that seat.

Here’s how the rest of the Senate shapes up. Republicans have eight potential takeaways, including six likely ones:

1. Nebraska, where Deb FischerDeb FischerIvanka Trump turns to House GOP on paid family leave GOP senators pleased with Ivanka Trump meeting on family leave, child tax credits McCain threatens to block Trump's deputy Defense nominee MORE, the Republican, has always been ahead. (vacant Democratic seat)

2. North Dakota: After an unexpectedly close race in the early going, Republican Rep. Rick Berg has now opened a respectable lead. (vacant Democratic seat)

3. Wisconsin: At first Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson was well ahead of Democratic Rep. Tammy BaldwinTammy BaldwinOvernight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger In Wisconsin, Trump touts 'earn while you learn' jobs push MORE. But then he fell back as Dems poured in money. Now, on the strength of Baldwin’s vote against funding body armor for U.S. troops and opposition to sanctions on Iran (she got $60,000 from a pro-Iran group), Thompson has taken the lead, likely for good. (vacant Democratic seat)

4. Montana has been host to a tight race between At-large Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) and Sen. Jon TesterJon TesterOvernight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Trump's 'regulatory czar' advances in Senate Gianforte causes stir after becoming newest House member MORE. With both representing the entire state, it’s a tough race. But Rehberg has had a small but consistent lead.

5. An upset is looming in Pennsylvania, where Rasmussen has Republican Tom Smith one ahead of Democratic Sen. Bob CaseyBob CaseyLive coverage: Senate Dems hold talkathon to protest GOP health plan Ryan Phillippe to visit Capitol Hill to advocate for military caregivers Dem senators seize on Senate press crackdown MORE Jr. Private polls have him further ahead.

6. Virginia: The latest private poll shows former Sen. George Allen (R) 5 points ahead of former Gov. Tim KaineTim KaineLive coverage: Senate Dems hold talkathon to protest GOP health plan Trump supporter who lost tight Va. governor primary weighs Senate run Northam defeats Sanders-backed candidate in Va. gov primary MORE.

Beyond these six likely takeaways, Republicans threaten in two more states:

7. Florida, where incumbent Democrat Bill NelsonBill NelsonSenate panel unveils aviation bill with consumer protections, drone fix Driverless cars speed onto political agenda Biden leaves options on table for another White House bid MORE is mired in the high 40s with challenger Rep. Connie Mack only 4 points behind. When an incumbent has under 50 percent of the vote, he is vulnerable, especially in a state that is going for Romney by a higher margin in each new poll.

8. In Ohio, Republican challenger Josh Mandel is only slightly behind ultra-liberal Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownSenate Banking panel huddles with regulators on bank relief Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE; both are under 50 percent.

To offset these gains, Democrats hope for three takeaways of their own:

1. Indiana, where Mourdock is trying to live his comments down.

2. Maine, where we may come to miss Olympia Snowe!

3. Massachusetts, where Scott Brown is behind Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenLive coverage: Senate GOP unveils its ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Budowsky: Dems madder than hell MORE in this very liberal state.

So, at worst, with six GOP gains and three Democratic gains, we emerge with a 50-50 Senate. A Vice President Paul RyanPaul RyanPaul Ryan: ‘Beautiful day’ to catch up with Bono Healthcare spending: the elephant in the tax reform room Overnight Healthcare: Latest on Senate healthcare bill | Four conservatives say they'll oppose | Obama slams bill | Health groups offer scathing criticism MORE would break the tie. And, at best, with eight GOP gains and two Democratic gains, we will be 53-47 Republican in the chamber.

To do: Help Mourdock (Ind.), Mandel (Ohio), Mack (Fla.), and Smith (Pa.).

And ... in a long shot, Republican Barry Hinchey is gaining on Democrat Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseJudiciary Committee to continue Russia probe after Mueller meeting GOP hits the gas on ObamaCare repeal Dems limited in their ability to slow ObamaCare vote MORE in Rhode Island. And New Jersey Republican Joe Kyrillos is moving up against Democratic Sen. Bob MenendezRobert MenendezBipartisan group, Netflix actress back bill for American Latino Museum The Mideast-focused Senate letter we need to see Taiwan deserves to participate in United Nations MORE.


Morris, a former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and President Bill ClintonBill ClintonOPINION: Trump’s bluff: Perfectly legal Trump wants to keep new immigrants from getting welfare — which is already law Budowsky: Dems madder than hell MORE, is the author including 2010: Take Back America — A Battle Plan and Outrage, Fleeced and Catastrophe. To get all of his and Eileen McGann’s columns for free by email or to order a signed, advanced copy of his latest book Revolt!, go to dickmorris.com.