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Democrat Claire McCaskill defeats Republican Todd Akin in Missouri Senate race

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Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) won reelection Tuesday, turning back a challenge from Rep. Todd Akin (R), whose controversial remarks about rape and pregnancy badly damaged his political standing.

McCaskill led Akin 51 percent to 42 percent, with 39 percent of precincts reporting. The Washington Post has called the race for her.

Heading into the 2012 cycle, McCaskill was widely viewed as one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the upper chamber. But the first-term senator's odds changed dramatically this summer after Akin said in an interview that "legitimate rape" rarely causes pregnancy.

Polls promptly turned in McCaskill's favor, and national Republicans pressured Akin to end his bid. But he refused to cave to the intra-party pressure, continuing a campaign in which he struggled to raise money as McCaskill's campaign coffers grew. McCaskill slammed Akin's controversial remark in campaign ads during the closing weeks of the race.

Recognizing Akin's history of provocation, the McCaskill campaign sought to boost him in the Republican primary against two other candidates. The strategy proved to be a politically savvy move.