The Backlash to the Todd Akin Backlash Starts to Take Form

| Thu Aug. 23, 2012 5:39 PM EDT

The Todd Akin affair is the affair that just keeps on giving. The entire mainstream of the Republican Party may have excommunicated Akin, but Mike Huckabee is having none of it:

In a Party that supposedly stands for life, it was tragic to see the carefully orchestrated and systematic attack on a fellow Republican. Not for a moral failure or corruption or a criminal act, but for a misstatement which he contritely and utterly repudiated. I was shocked by GOP leaders and elected officials who rushed so quickly to end the political life of a candidate over a mistaken comment in an interview.

....Who ordered this “Code Red” on Akin? There were talking point memos sent from the National Republican Senatorial Committee suggesting language to urge Akin to drop out. Political consultants were ordered to stay away from Akin or lose future business with GOP committees. Operatives were recruited to set up a network of pastors to call Akin to urge him to get out. Money has changed hands to push him off the plank. It is disgraceful.

Etc. etc.

So what happens next? My prediction from the start has been this:

  • Akin, figuring that he just has to gut it out until the storm passes, will doggedly insist on staying in the race.
  • Faced with this cold, hard fact, conservatives will eventually invent some reason that liberal criticism of Akin has gone beyond the pale, and will start to rally around him.
  • He will beat Claire McCaskill in November. Not by a lot, perhaps, but he'll still beat her.

I'm going to stick with this. The backlash from the social conservative base has already begun, and I suspect that eventually the mainstream of the GOP will cave in. They'll cave in quietly, but cave in they will. When it becomes clear that (a) Akin is staying in the race and is therefore still key to winning back control of the Senate, and (b) they risk a civil war within the party if they continue to blackball Akin, money and support will begin flowing his way again. It will happen behind the scenes at first, and then more openly as the controversy fades away and the election gets closer.

There are other possibilities, of course. I figure the top three contenders are these:

  1. The pressure gets too intense and Akin bows out.
  2. Party leaders stick to their guns and incite a civil war with social conservatives.
  3. Party leaders eventually cave in and quietly support Akin.

I actually think the open civil war scenario would be a lot more fun and a lot more satisfying, but I'm skeptical that party leaders will let it come to that. I'm sticking with scenario #3. You can cast your vote in comments.