Mitch McConnell says GOP has ‘50-50’ chance of holding Senate

Mitch McConnell says GOP has ‘50-50’ chance of holding Senate

October 29, 2020

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell believes Republicans hold a “50-50″ chance of maintaining their majority in the upper house of Congress, he revealed while campaigning.

Speaking to reporters after a campaign event in Lawrenceburg, Ky., Wednesday, McConnell (R-Ky.) made the admission after being asked if he thought Republicans would be able to hold on to the Senate.

“Well, as I’ve said repeatedly for six months, it’s a 50-50 proposition. We have a lot of exposure. This is a huge Republican class because it’s the class that took the majority in 2014 and now there are a lot of people up. Twenty-three Republicans, only 12 Democrats. There’s dogfights all over the country. I’ve said for years it’s a 50-50 proposition. It still is,” the top Senate Republican said.

The majority leader was also asked about his own race against former Marine combat pilot Amy McGrath, to which he expressed confidence in his standing.

“I’m confident that I’m going to be successful. I’ve made my case to the people of Kentucky, I think it’s a convincing case.”

McConnell’s comments come as Senate Republicans are fighting for ways to hold on to their majority.

As the leader mentioned, Republicans are defending 23 seats in the Senate, while Democrats are defending 12. The difference in number of races, as well as the number of swing states where the GOP face numerous Democratic challenges, leave Republicans with an uphill battle.

Senators serve six-year terms. All those who helped return majority control to the Republican Party in 2014 — the last midterm election under former President Obama — are up for re-election this cycle.

Still, Senate Republicans appear to have some optimism going into next Tuesday’s election.

Speaking to The Hill Wednesday, Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) echoed McConnell’s belief that the GOP-held body’s fate was up in the air, but maintained some optimism.

“I think it’s even money, it’s 50-50. There are some huge fights going on, and huge amounts of money being spent and races are competitive, but our candidates are doing a good job. They’re holding their own,” Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican, told the outlet.

Going into specifics, Thune referenced the Senate races in Michigan and Minnesota, where Republicans are challenging incumbent Democrats.

“I think Michigan’s an opportunity that people are at least somewhat aware of. John James has done a great job of raising money, and I think if he can turn out voters in the city, he’ll do well out-state. He’s got a good shot,” the South Dakota senator said, referencing James’ challenge of freshman Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.).

Party leaders are hoping that James, who is black, will be able to turn out African American voters, and are investing in the race to help him across the finish line.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a McConnell-allied GOP super PAC, is pouring millions into that race, which currently has Peters leading James 50.2 percent to 42.6 percent, according to a Real Clear Politics polling average.

With regard to the Minnesota race between incumbent Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.), Thune calls it a “sleeper.”

“I think that people are looking at the security issues if you live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs,” he argued, referring to President Trump’s law-and-order message to suburban voters following months of violence and unrest during racial justice protests.

“You get to the rural areas and it’s real strong for the Republicans. There’s always going to be a couple of surprises election night,” he added.

Smith is currently leading Lewis 46.8 percent to 40.5 percent, according to a RCP average.

A second GOP senator who spoke anonymously to the outlet said that he and many of his colleagues were staying positive ahead of Election Day.

“I was so certain that Hillary Clinton was going to win that I’m just not that willing to be certain anymore,” the senator said.

McConnell’s comments Wednesday are slightly less optimistic than the forecast he offered in August, though he warned at the time that he always knew the 2020 race would be a hard one for Republicans.

Speaking to Fox News at the time, he said, “We have a lot of incumbents, a lot of exposure, around the country. Every one of these races, about eight of them, are like a knife fight in an alley. They’re tough challenges.”

Asked what he thought the Republicans’ odds were in the battle for the Senate, McConnell maintained some hope.

“What I’d tell you is this is a tough fight. It could go either way. We’re optimistic we can hold on.”

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