Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Republicans have a 50 percent chance of taking control of the Senate ahead of the November midterm elections.
“Flipping the Senate, what are the chances? It’s a 50–50 proposition. We’ve got a 50–50 Senate right now. We’ve got a 50–50 nation. And I think the outcome is likely to be very, very close either way,” McConnell told the Scott County Chamber of Commerce on Monday, according to the Reuters news agency.
McConnell was referring to the Senate having 50 Republicans and 50 who caucus with Democrats. Vice President Kamala Harris serves as a tie-breaker for Democrats in the Senate, while Democrats have a slim majority in the House.
“If both the House and the Senate flip, I think the president will be a moderate,” McConnell said. “He won’t have any choice. And so, we’ll try to find ways to make some progress for the country during the last two years of his term … but not big dramatic change.”
Those comments came a week after he made a more dire prediction to local media by saying Republicans aren’t likely to take the Senate. He blamed “candidate quality” as the reason for the lowered expectations.
Republicans entered the 2022 campaign hopeful of capturing both chambers of Congress. Democrats are under pressure from inflation, high gas prices, President Joe Biden’s poor job approval numbers, and historical political trends. The party of the president tends to lose seats in midterm elections.
McConnell’s previous comments drew the ire of former President Donald Trump, who again accused McConnell of having poor leadership qualities. The former president has called on Republicans to oust the longtime GOP leader since leaving the White House in early 2021.
In a post on Truth Social, Trump described the Kentucky lawmaker as a “broken down political hack” and challenged his loyalty to the Republican Party. He also claimed that McConnell’s wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, of making a fortune with her family business that deals extensively in China.
“Why do Republicans Senators allow a broken down hack politician, Mitch McConnell, to openly disparage hard working Republican candidates for the United States Senate,” Trump asked on the platform, adding that McConnell’s dire prediction “is such an affront to honor and to leadership. He should spend more time (and money!) helping them get elected.”
But despite the criticism, McConnell told Fox News in early August that he will be reelected as Senate Republican leader no matter how his party performs during the midterms.
“I have been elected eight times without opposition. If I have an opponent—I don’t own this job, and there’s always an election every two years for leader—if anybody wants to challenge me, have at it,” McConnell said.