Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expected Donald Trump to lose his 2016 presidential bid and Republicans to lose control of the Senate when November 8 came around.
“I honestly thought we wouldn’t hold the U.S. Senate,” the Kentucky Republican told Kentucky Educational Television’s “One to One with Bill Goodman” late Monday.
“I thought we’d come up short, and I didn’t think President Trump had a chance of winning.”
Republicans managed to hold the Senate despite losing two seats in the midst of defending 24 of the 34 seats that were up for grabs back in November. In the next Congress the upper chamber Republican majority will stand at 52 seats.
“I thought we’d come up short in the Senate. We had a lot of exposure,” McConnell said. He added that many races were in “very difficult states for us in presidential years.”
McConnell’s expectations appeared to settle in early, when a report surfaced back in February that he suggested to Republican colleagues in difficult races to run against Trump if it was necessary.
The Senate victories were “really something,” the Kentucky Republican said, “but it never occurred to me he (Trump) might be able to win as well.”
Senate Democrats find themselves in a similar position in 2018 that Republicans previously were in this election cycle. Of the 33 seats that are in contention, 23 belong to Democrats and 10 of them are in states Trump won.