Reaction To Todd Akin's "Legitimate Rape" Comment Sign Of Division
Akin, the challenger for Claire McCaskill’s Senate seat, has been repudiated by the Right, the Left, and just about everybody on my Facebook newsfeed. His comments easily win the prize for most offensive statement made by a candidate this year (a pretty amazing feat, considering this is the election cycle that gave us a womanizing ex-Pizza company CEO who wants to electrocute immigrants and a Minnesota Congresswoman who likes to randomly assert that government officials are Islamist sleeper cells).
While Akin’s comments tell us a lot about his extremist views on abortion rights, the national conversation surrounding this issue would be severely lacking if it didn’t include a discussion about what the fallout from these comments tells us about our nation.
Data from Public Policy Polling reveals that as of the Tuesday after Akin’s remarks, he was still leading McCaskill by one percentage point in the race for the Missouri Senate seat. This is despite the fact that 75 percent of Missouri voters think his comment was inappropriate, and only 24 percent of Missouri voters have a favorable opinion of him. His support among Republicans remained strong, however, with only 10 percent of Missouri Republicans saying they were willing to vote for McCaskill in November.
While the poll numbers have changed since that initial survey, this snapshot of public opinion suggest that Americans are so polarized that voters don’t care what their candidates say or do, as long as they have the right party affiliation.
Todd Akin went on television and implied that rape victims who were impregnated were lying about what had happened to them, and even that remark did not significantly affect how Missouri Republicans will vote.
These days, there are plenty of stories about the polarization of our current political climate. Journalist and political scientists often convey this point by citing the declining numbers of undecided voters, writing about the increasingly partisan manner of Congressional votes, or by outlining the differences between the Occupy and Tea Party Movements.
But the reaction to Todd Akin’s comments stands as a shining example of the division in our country. It shows us that GOP voters are willing to stick with a man who accuses rape victims of lying, as long as it means they don’t have to vote for a Democrat.