We switched Indiana to a possible pickup for Democrats earlier this month, but at the time it had the longest odds for Democrats of the five Republican-leaning seats still in play.
There’s a lot of daylight between these two suffering Republican campaigns in Indiana and Missouri. While Missouri’s Akin’s claim represents a fringe, discredited theory about rape and pregnancy, Indiana’s Mourdock’s position finds support among some in his party. The Republican Party’s platform does not mention rape or incest when discussing abortion, and Rep. Paul Ryan has stated that “the method of conception does not change the definition of life” (though he dutifully defers to Romney’s more moderate position now that he’s on the ticket). Slate estimates that 12 to 15 of the 33 Republican senatorial candidates share this position.
A majority of Americans continue to believe that abortion should fall in the area between always legal and always illegal. Curiously, while public opinion on this point has not shifted much through time, polls have found that Americans are now more likely to identify themselves as “pro-life” than “pro-choice.” Mourdock’s statement is damaging not because it is factually incorrect, like Akin’s, but because it exposes rifts among abortion opponents that no pragmatic Republican should want surfaced in this election.