U.S. Rep. Todd Akin couldnt beat a television interview and Sen. Claire McCaskill.
In August, just a few weeks after his surprise victory in Missouris Republican Senate primary, the six-term congressman told a reporter that a womans body can prevent pregnancy after a legitimate rape. He was explaining his views on abortion, which he has long opposed.
But the comments for which he later apologized provoked an unprecedented nationwide uproar that haunted Akin through Election Day, ultimately dooming his candidacy and costing his party what before was seen as a cakewalk U.S. Senate seat.
The highly religious candidate asked supporters Tuesday evening to thank God, who makes no mistakes. We have lost this race.
Akins comment on abortion and rape appeared to hurt him across the state. Many Republicans expected the race to be close, but early returns showed tens of thousands of voters split their tickets supporting Mitt Romney for president but crossing over to help elect McCaskill, a Democrat.
Most major television networks called the race for McCaskill just after 9:15 p.m. He conceded half an hour later.
As expected, some votes went to Libertarian Jonathan Dine. Many Republicans who could not support McCaskill said they would vote for Dine instead.
Still, it appeared that when all the votes are tallied, McCaskill will get an absolute majority of all votes cast suggesting Akin would have lost even if the ballot had not included a third name.
Beth Miller, a political science professor at UMKC, said Akins campaign collapsed because of a series of misstatements and gaffes, not just his answer about rape.
That comment, plus the dog comment, the ladylike comment, Miller said after Akins concession. Akin shot himself in the foot.
But the political setback from Akins comments on rape were apparent barely minutes after he made them in an interview on a St. Louis television station.
Within days, leading Republicans including Romney called on Akin to leave the race. Others denounced Akins rape argument, calling it bizarre. Five current or former U.S. senators from Missouri, all Republicans, explicitly asked Akin to drop out. McCaskill later used those pleas in her own advertising.
Akin ignored the requests to quit, believing the furor would eventually die down enough for him to make a case to Missouris increasingly conservative electorate.
But many of the Republicans who attacked the Senate nominee also appeared to keep their promise to stay out of the Missouri campaign.
It didnt have to be this way, said Rick Tyler, one of Akins top campaign aides, who conceded the rape comment had done some damage. The Republican Party could have stood by Akin, taken his apology and accepted it.
In the end, McCaskill and outside groups supporting her outspent Akin by at least a 4-to-1 ratio. His spending shortfall, coupled with other controversial statements in the fall campaign, ended up moving a predicted GOP pickup of a Senate seat into the Democratic column.
McCaskills campaign did not focus on Akins abortion and rape comments until the very end of the race in a series of campaign commercials that featured victims offended by Akins remarks.