GOP Leader Pours Cold Water on Chances of Retaking the Senate, Knocks 'Candidate Quality'


Update: 8/21/2022: This story has been updated: It originally falsely stated that Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his trial. We apology for the error.

With the November midterms elections drawing near, it seems that Democrats’ electoral prospects are improving.

And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) seems to believe that Republicans’ chances of wresting control of the Senate away from Democrats are slipping away.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the Kentucky senator said, “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,” he added.

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Perhaps this was an attempt by McConnell to try to keep Republican voters from becoming complacent ahead of the election.

But he is not alone in predicting that Democrats might keep control of the Senate.

FiveThirtyEight’s model projects that Democrats are “slightly favored” to win the upper chamber.

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The Senate is currently divided 50-50, and it seemed like this would be an easy year for Republicans to retake control — surely they could flip just one seat — but so far it looks like it will be an uphill battle.

So what’s happened? Well, Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial and would not have been as easy to brand as fringe, far-right candidates, are retiring this year.

And the Trumpier candidates nominated to replace them are not the strongest and appear to be struggling.

Starting in Pennsylvania, Mehmet Oz — who was not conservatives’ favorite choice but received Trump’s endorsement — is being ripped to shreds by his opponent, who is hammering him as a wealthy carpetbagger who owns ten homes. FiveThirtyEight’s tracker shows Democrat John Fetterman leading Oz by 11 points.

Meanwhile, FiveThirtyEight’s tracker shows Democrat Cheri Beasley with a razor-thin lead over Trump-backed Ted Budd in North Carolina’s Senate race. And in Ohio, which Trump won by eight points in 2020, Democratic Senate candidate Tim Ryan is leading Republican J.D. Vance by 1 point.

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Additionally, a Marquette University poll conducted Aug. 10-15 found Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) trailing Democrat Mandela Barnes by seven points in his reelection bid.

Those are just the seats that Republicans would likely need to hold onto if they want a good chance to flip the Senate.

In Georgia, Herschel Walker is struggling in his bid to unseat Sen. Raphael Warnock (D). Walker has reportedly falsely claimed to have been in law enforcement, has a checkered past when it comes to his business ventures, and recently admitted to having three previously unknown children with women he was not married to. FiveThirtyEight’s tracker shows Walker trailing Warnock by 1.7 points.

The Republican gubernatorial nominees in Ohio and Georgia are both leading in the polls. So it’s possible that at the end of the day, there will be enough voters who just vote for the Republican line that Vance and Walker are dragged to victory. It’s also possible that the polls for those Senate races are wrong, and the two are actually leading. But this is by no means the optimal situation for Republicans right now.

And finally, in Arizona, Blake Masters — who has raised doubts about the 2020 election results and voiced opposition to the United States’ intervention in both World Wars — won the Republican nomination, and polls have found him trailing Sen. Mark Kelley (D-Ariz.)

Republicans dodged a bullet in Missouri by rejecting disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens’ Senate primary bid. But keeping the Missouri seat may wind up being their consolation prize.

While polls show Republican candidates trailing, the National Republican Senatorial Committee decided to cut its advertisement spending in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Again, there’s still, in theory, a decent amount of time left for Republicans to turn things around. But as of right now, Democrats are probably feeling pretty good about keeping the Senate.

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