Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) acknowledged this week that the 2018 midterm cycle could prove especially difficult for the Republican Party in the face of increased Democratic voter enthusiasm.
In an interview with Kentucky Today, published Tuesday, McConnell admitted: “This is going to be a challenging election year."
“We know the wind is going to be in our face,” he continued. “We don’t know whether it’s going to be a Category 3, 4 or 5.”
McConnell said once again that the most important accomplishment, in his mind, of Donald Trump’s administration so far has been the number of conservative judicial appointments the president has gotten through.
“I believe that’s the most important thing we’re doing,” the majority leader 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.”
Given the legacy of that Trump-era accomplishment, McConnell is more hopeful of retaining the Senate than the House, acknowledging that more transient policy changes like the GOP’s tax reform can simply be scrapped “the next time the political winds shift.”
“I’m hoping we can hold the Senate,” he said. “And the principle reason for that, even if we were to lose the House and be stymied legislatively, we could still approve appointments, which is a huge part of what we do.”
While Democrats are, at this stage, likely favored to take a majority in the House of Representatives, the Senate is a different matter entirely. For Democrats to take the majority in that chamber, they would need to defend all their seats, many of which are in states President Trump won handily, and pick off two more seats that are in play.