Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell once again sounded the alarms Tuesday for the Republican Party ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
“This is going to be a challenging election year,” McConnell said in an interview with Kentucky Today. “We know the wind is going to be in our face. We don’t know whether it’s going to be a Category 3, 4 or 5.”
McConnell also revealed to Kentucky Today the political decisions under his Senate tenure that he believes to be the most consequential. The Kentucky senator pointed to Republicans’ judiciary appointments.
“I believe that’s the most important thing we’re doing,” McConnell said. “You’ve heard me say before that I thought the decision I made not to fill the Supreme Court vacancy when Justice Scalia died was the most consequential decision I’ve made in my entire public career. The things that will last the longest time, those are my top priorities.”
The Senate majority leader also compared the lasting influence of conservative judges to the temporary political accomplishment of tax reform.
“It’s noteworthy that when we did comprehensive tax reform 30 years ago, we left it alone for four years before the political winds shifted and we started playing with it again,” he said. “Believe me, the next time the political winds shift, and the other guys are in the ascendancy (he snapped his fingers indicating a rewrite). But they won’t change these judges for a generation.”
Whether it is midterm electioneering or genuine concern for the GOP’s fortunes, McConnell has repeatedly struck a pessimistic tone about retaining seats in the House and Senate.
“The odds are that we will lose seats in the House and the Senate,” McConnell told the New York Times in an interview in mid-February. “History tells you that, the fired-up nature of the political left tells you that. We go into this cleareyed that this is going to be quite a challenging election.”
Republicans currently control 238 seats in the House, while the Democrats control 192 seats. In the Senate, Republicans control 51 seats, and the Democrats control 49. While the margin appears relatively slim, a New York Times analysis shows that Democrats need to win 28 elections to control the Senate, while Republicans only need to win 9 races to maintain power.
The Democratic Party currently holds a 7.2 percent general ballot edge in congressional races, according to Real Clear Politics polling.