Political analysts are watching carefully the amount of small donor support that GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin can attract starting this week as an indication of whether Missouri will still be in play for the Republican effort to take control of the Senate. What is of particular interest are how Christians are responding to Akin's request for cash.
Soon after winning the GOP primary in early August, Akin made his infamous remark about "legitimate rape" which caused an uproar among both Democrats using the comment against him and Republicans – many of whom, including the national party chairman – who also called for him to withdraw from the race. So far, Akin has resisted that recommendation and from all indications it appears he will bypass another deadline on Tuesday of this week to drop out.
Akin has repeatedly apologized for his comments that were aired on Aug. 19 and says his multiple pleas for forgiveness should be sufficient to continue in his quest to unseat Democratic Incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Still, major sources of cash and advertising including the RNC and Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS have publicly said they would not back Akin.
"We're not going to play in Missouri with Todd Akin, I can tell you that," said GOP Chairman Reince Preibus on ABC's This Week on Sunday. "So it'll be yet to be seen whether he stays in or not."
Akin is ramping up his campaign by holding a fundraiser with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on Monday and then addressing a gathering of prominent pastors on Tuesday.
"I believe the state of the campaign is looking better and better," Akin said Friday after his first debate against McCaskill.
Aside from Gingrich, other conservatives backing Akin include former Arkansas governor and Fox News host Mike Huckabee and Tea Party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
While Akin may have lost some of his major donors, the campaign has raised almost $600,000 from conservative activists, many of whom are evangelical Christians who believe he will best represent the Show-Me state.
Christian conservative and stay-at-home Mom Julie Thomas, who also describes herself as "pro-life," organized a women-for-Akin rally that attracted about several hundred supporters from St. Louis and Jefferson City, calling Akin "a man with unparalleled character."
"Whenever he got thrown under the bus by his own party, I just said, 'uh, uh,'" Thomas told Fox News. "That was the tipping point for me."
But instead of holding $1,000 to $2,500 per person dinners and receptions, Akin and his finance professionals must count on smaller donors such as Thomas.
Others who might fall into that category include small business owners, veterans and supporters of gun rights.
According to Real Clear Politics, the latest poll average in the Akin-McCaskill race indicates that the incumbent (McCaskill) still maintains a six-point lead, 49-43 percent. Nonetheless, McCaskill has failed to break the 50 percent mark.