Election 2012

Libertarian Poised To Shake-Up Akin-McCaskill Race

He's buff, he's running and he's getting second looks from voters appalled by the competition

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Jonathan Dine was at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia when his Facebook page mysteriously lit up with activity. It wasn't until he returned home to Kansas City, some hour and a half away, that he figured out why. An interview had just aired in which Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican challenger to Senator Claire McCaskill, had made his now-infamous "legitimate rape" comment. And disaffected Missourians were checking out Dine, a Libertarian candidate who is the only other name on the ballot with Akin and McCaskill, in droves.

In the wake of Akin's implosion, polls have shown that voters, especially Republicans, are blown away and seeking an alternative. Thirteen percent of Missouri Republicans, according to the Rasmussen poll, favor "some other candidate" when asked about the two major party candidates. On top of that, another 7 percent are undecided. Dine, who also ran for Missouri Senator in 2010 and took about 3 percent of the vote, considers these voters to be his potential share of the electorate. That idea isn't so far-fetched. New York Times blogger Nate Silver recently mused that Dine's ballot presence could lure away Republicans who are turned off by Todd Akin but still can't stomach the thought of voting McCaskill. Dine may have an opportunity to make a real showing come November and doom Akin's candidacy. In fact, with 18 percent of Missouri independents undecided or leaning toward "some other candidate," he could endanger McCaskill.