KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Missouri congressman Todd Akin called it his “six-second mistake.” But his brief remark about “legitimate rape” was more than enough to sink his U.S. Senate campaign.
Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill defeated her Republican challenger with nearly 55 percent of the vote to Akin’s 39 percent in Tuesday’s election. It was the largest margin of victory in a Missouri Senate race since 1994.
Exit polls showed many voters took into consideration Akin’s mid-August remark that women’s bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy in what he called “legitimate rape.” Though he apologized, Akin’s campaign never recovered.
Political scientist Dave Robertson, who teaches at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, says many voters were unfamiliar with Akin before the remark, and it defined him in a negative way.