I think this is a different picture, though, so that might be progress of a kind. (Orlin Wagner/AP)

There are many things of which it can be said that Todd Akin does not understand. The female body. Apologies. Words. Words strung together in sentences. What it means when Sean Hannity spends two days begging you to leave the race. (“That’s just his way of saying hello!”) What it means when Paul Ryan telephones you and does not sound happy. (“Great talking to Paul! I miss those fun days we had!”)

Time to add yet another item to the list: polling.

Rasmussen polls just released a poll showing Akin 10 points behind Democrat Claire McCaskill of Missouri, with 38 percent of the vote to her 48.

His response? Campaign manager Perry Akin issued a statement saying: “If she can’t break fifty percent after a week like this, Democrats should ask Claire McCaskill to step down.”

Yes. That is what you do when your candidate has a 10-point lead. You ask her to step down. No wonder he’s staying in. He seems to think that the farther ahead you are, the worse it is.

Polling is clearly another topic that Akin has difficulty tackling. It’s not just biology. Statistics — and addition — are a hurdle, too. Public Policy Polling, a liberal-leaning firm, placed him within a point of McCaskill, and he kept citing that number triumphantly. Rasmussen, conservative pollsters, had him 10 points behind, and his campaign urged his opponent to step down.

Or possibly it all makes sense now. Maybe Todd Akin thinks “Step down from the race!” is a phrase of encouragement. It’s the political version of telling an actor to break a leg. It’s what you tell a guy when things are going really well.

“After I said that great newsworthy thing this weekend, everyone called me and said ‘Step down!’ ‘Leave this race!’ That’s how you know you’re doing something right. Several men even came to my house in dark jackets and fun costumes and said ‘Step down if you want to play the violin ever again,’ which was a variant I’d never heard before! And when I got into the house someone had thoughtfully left a horse’s head in my bed, which was a little eccentric, as gifts go, but I appreciate the thought. Let’s fight that good fight!”

No wonder he’s telling McCaskill that right now. Things certainly seem to be going well for her.