As the Republican establishment returns to the fold in the Missouri Senate race, it’s worth reminding everyone that one of the major problems with Todd Akin is the simple fact that he’s Todd Akin. It’s not like the “legitimate rape” comments sprung out of the blue; they exist on a continuum of other extremist comments. And they’re not going to stop, because Akin apparently has no filter. He stepped in it again today with these remarks about Claire McCaskill, sure to erode his standing among women:

But a new comment isn’t likely to help his efforts to appeal to women voters: Akin noted that his opponent, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, was more “ladylike” during the 2006 campaign.

“I think we have a very clear path to victory, and apparently Claire McCaskill thinks we do, too, because she was very aggressive at the debate, which was quite different than it was when she ran against Jim Talent,” Akin told the Kansas City Star. “She had a confidence and was much more ladylike (in 2006), but in the debate on Friday she came out swinging, and I think that’s because she feels threatened.”

This actually isn’t all that bad analysis – McCaskill is in a tougher position because Missouri has trended red, and because she’s an incumbent with a record at variance with the trend of the state – but to say that McCaskill wasn’t “ladylike” in a debate is just terrible word choice. And if past performance is any guide, this won’t be the last time Akin sticks his foot in his mouth.

Polls have shown that Akin has recovered from his drop in the polls, but that was mainly due from being treated with kid gloves before he became locked into the ballot as the Republican nominee. He still has a good chance to win, but the fact that he’ll continue to give interviews for the next 40 days won’t help his cause.

None of this to say that the Democrats don’t have their own issues with the Senate. Pennsylvania has crept back as a battleground, with Republican businessman Tom Smith spending heavily to get within striking distance of Bob Casey. And in Maine, the tricky scenario where Democrats are tolerating without totally favoring a victory from Dem-leaning Independent Angus King has run into trouble, as King’s margin has eroded as his negatives have increased, so the Democratic/Independent split could lead to a victory for the Republican, Charlie Summers. And King, who had been coasting on his name recognition, has very little money to spend.

One bright spot for Democrats comes in Indiana, where Rep. Joe Donnelly is very competitive with Richard Mourdock. (From a policy perspective, Joe Donnelly is not going to be a great vote in the US Senate if he wins, though marginally better than Mourdock.)