Intense political pressure: the Akin example.

I’m fascinated by the defiant course chosen by U.S. Republican Representative Todd Akin.

Akin, who is vying for Missouri Senate seat, referred to “legitimate rape” in a TV interview. Akin also said that pregnancy could be avoided because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

He has been rounded on by feminist groups, ‘progressive’ opinion leaders, democrat opponents, and the President. It’s ironic that the political class which most frets about ‘bullying’ are doing a very skilled job of it in harrying Akin.

Far worse though, he has been shunned by his own Party. Despite a commonality in views, Republican leaders are scared of being on the wrong side of the debate, and of the effect the comments might have on the female vote for the Presidency race. They have demanded that he resign from the race. Big donors are said to have deserted his campaign, reducing him to a grass-roots appeal for money.

Politics can be a horrible business.

Akin seems up for it though. He has refused to resign from the race. He avoided contact from Republican officials and missed a race candidacy withdrawal date.

Although he initially apologised for ‘mis-speaking’ – after a few days he returned to the media furore confirming that he stood by his original comments.

He may well be judging that he has become one of those pre-campaign crazy-points. Part of the phoney war.

He may be judging that next week the national agenda will move on to something else – that his ‘liberal’ opponents will have used him to prove their credentials, and will look for another target.

He may be right. In fact, the publicity might end up helping him in a State that is evenly divided. I recently pointed to studies showing that negative campaigns tend to strengthen opinions for and against opposing views. Polls taken in the first three days of the fuss are far from clear, indicating that the calculation is not as simple as “controversy = falling votes”. [This calculation is such a stupid but common pundit belief that I really must blog on it more often].

So I am fascinated as to whether his grass-roots campaign can continue, and whether it can keep or win votes.

What-ever you might think of his politics, Akin is a brave man.

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