Democrats are widely thought to have caught a break in Missouri last night, because Rep. Todd Akin prevailed in the GOP primary to face Senator Claire McCaskill — her weakest opponent. Akin has a history of over-the-top statements which Steve Benen documents right here; he has compared federal involvement in student loans to a “stage three cancer of socialism” and has said liberalism is grounded in “hatred of God.”
But Dems believe Akin may have another serious vulnerability — not just what he has said, but how he has voted. Akin has repeatedly voted against measures that passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support, votes that Dems will point to as evidence of how far Akin is out of the mainstream, even among Republicans:
* In 2012, Akin was one of 24 to vote against the Training and Research for Autism Improvements Nationwide Act; 147 Republicans voted for it. A GOP press release described this as an effort to “advance training and education for autism service providers” so that “autistic children and adults can lead fuller, happier and healthier lives.”
* In 2010, Akin was one of only 13 to vote No on a motion “expressing the support of the House of Representatives for the goals and ideals of the National School Lunch Program.” 155 Republicans voted for it.
* In 2009, Akin was one of 11 to vote against a measure “expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that providing breakfast in schools through the National School Breakfast Program has a positive impact on classroom performance.” 152 Republicans voted for it (fixed).
* In 2004, Aiken was one of only five to vote against the Child Nutrition Improvement and Integrity Act; 217 Republicans voted for it. A GOP press release said the measure would “ensure more effective and efficient use of federal resources targeted to providing nutritional services for vulnerable children.”
* Also in 2004, Akin was one of 19 to vote No on revisions and extensions to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, a measure that authorized increased federal spending to expand the number of such clubs. 185 Republicans voted for it.
Steve Taylor, a spokesman for Congressman Akin, confirmed the above votes and said they reflect Akin’s beliefs.
“As a principled conservative, he has always stood for limited government and for supporting authorizations that fall within the framework of our United States Constitution,” Taylor said. “Those are principles that guide him.”
Akin’s votes, however, suggest a strikingly rigid interpretation of what constitutes “limited government,” and suggest just how far out of the mainstream he may be.
No question, this is going to be a tough race for McCaskill; the Real Clear Politics average has Akin currently up by three points. But in a general election, Akin’s true ideological nature is likely to receive far more scrutiny than it did in the GOP primary. Many have compared Akin to candidates like Christine O’Donnell, who cost the GOP a Senate seat they should have won. But Akin, unlike O’Donnell, doesn’t just have a history of outsized public statements; he has an actual voting record to go along with it.