In a private meeting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) expressed optimism that Republican Senate candidates in key battleground states could prevail in November. Forecasts still show races in several states with razor-thin margins, but McConnell’s enthusiasm might help their cause leading up to Election Day.
WASHINGTON EXAMINER: McConnell quietly optimistic Republicans will recapture Senate: Report
Ryan King; September 20, 2022
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) isn’t counting Republicans out of the battle for the Senate just yet, according to reports from attendees of a closed-door meeting.
Despite his statements about the GOP’s prospects of reclaiming power over the upper chamber, McConnell voiced optimism that his party can prevail in the midterm elections during a 45-minute visit with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Monday, Axios reported.
McConnell raised eyebrows last month when he said that the Republicans had more favorable odds of surfing the red wave to victory in the House, while describing the Senate as “extremely close.” He also raised concerns about candidate quality on the Republican side.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” the Kentucky Republican said at the time, NBC reported. “Right now, we have a 50-50 Senate and a 50-50 country, but I think when all is said and done this fall, we’re likely to have an extremely close Senate, either our side up slightly or their side up slightly.”
His comments came as political experts started to shift their forecasts in favor of the Democrats. When this summer began, Republicans were widely expected to easily take the House and win the Senate as well by a tighter margin, but the fallout from Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization and a plethora of Democratic legislative achievements had blunted the GOP’s edge in polling.
Further fueling the shift were the dip in gas prices and President Joe Biden’s anemic poll numbers beginning to tick up. Having once spelled midterm doom for the Democrats, FiveThirtyEight’s forecast now gives Democrats a 71 in 100 chance of gaining the Senate.
McConnell’s view on the GOP’s prospects contrasted with National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who has voiced total confidence that his party will reclaim the upper chamber. Scott has reportedly been eyed by former President Donald Trump to lead the Senate, but he has weathered criticism from colleagues over his handling of the Senate GOP arm.
With a 50-50 split in the Senate, each party needs one seat to tip the balance of power in their favor. Republicans are defending tough seats in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, while Democrats are battling to keep the Republicans at bay in Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia.
A recent flurry of polls out of Georgia and Wisconsin has given Republicans a glimmer of hope of winning those races. But they are down in Pennsylvania, where Dr. Mehmet Oz continues to trail John Fetterman considerably despite gaining ground in recent weeks.
McConnell’s courting of the Chamber comes as some members of his party, including Donald Trump Jr., have tried to distance themselves from it, bashing the organization for not adhering to the MAGA agenda.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), meanwhile, has reportedly warned his fellow Democrats that they will likely lose the House, while giving his party a roughly 60% chance of winning the upper chamber.
Photo: AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib