Mitch McConnell, the Republican that every Republican loves to hate, is trying to get a GOP Senate majority back. And despite what some on the right have been saying, the cards have been stacked against him from the get-go.
Of the 34 Senate seats up for grabs in 2022, Republicans are trying to defend 21 of them. The GOP has to defend two seats in states taken by Joe Biden in 2020 — Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Democrats don’t have to defend any seats taken by Donald Trump.
It is, as pollsters like to say, an unfavorable map for Republicans.
For most of the summer, Republicans were basking in poll numbers showing them sweeping the midterm elections, carrying the House, and capturing the Senate. And that still may happen. But recent polls have revealed that all is not well in the Republican drive to take the Senate. Several candidates are proving to be less dynamic, less popular, and less capable than was originally believed.
On Thursday, McConnell made his feelings known about Senate “candidate quality,” and it got him in a lot of trouble.
“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate,” the minority leader anticipated. “Senate races are just different. They’re statewide. Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.”
Many of the candidates in trouble were hand-picked and endorsed by Donald Trump. By criticizing “candidate quality,” McConnell is criticizing Trump, and, as we all know, criticizing Donald Trump lets loose the baying hounds of hell.
“McConnell is telling you now what people like me have been telling you for years — the GOP would rather lose to Democrats than lose control of the party to its base,” tweeted Steve Deace, an influential conservative talk show host. “That’s what ‘electable’ means — someone they approve of. Ditch would rather have [Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark] Kelly than [Republican challenger Blake] Masters, for example.”
Fellow radio host John Fredericks also said McConnell “has given up because he doesn’t want Trump candidates to win.”
“McConnell would rather lose the Senate than win with primary candidates he tried to knife. That’s why he’s having a temper tantrum right now instead of doing his job,” tweeted conservative commentator Sean Davis. “The truth is he wants every GOP nominee to be another Liz Cheney rather than someone responsive to GOP voters.”
Would McConnell really rather lose the Senate than help Dr. Oz get elected? There’s a reason Oz is losing by 15 points to a radical socialist; he’s a terrible candidate. There’s no fire, no passion in Oz’s campaign. It’s not his supporters who are at fault. It’s the candidate himself.
And if Herschel Walker fudged his resume any more, he could make a chocolate cake out of it. Voters don’t like a liar; even if he’s a football legend.
Candidates like that don’t win elections. Arizona Republican Blake Masters is trailing one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the nation, Sen. Mark Kelly, by eight points. This is in a state where Biden is underwater by double digits.
If it’s not the candidates, what is it? If you’re nutty enough to believe that McConnell is deliberately trying to sabotage these campaigns because he’d rather be a minority leader than a majority leader, you don’t know anything about politics.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), another Senator the right loves to hate but who somehow keeps winning elections by 40 points, agrees with McConnell.
“Many people’s pocketbooks are being robbed every day because of Biden’s inflation. And, I think that the motive that McConnell would have would be that he wants to wake people up to the fact that this is an important election coming up and that you better be on your toes, both as a candidate, and people are supporting Republicans, or maybe we wouldn’t want to win control of the United States Senate,” Grassley continued.
“But he needs to have people help by voting, help by getting votes out and help by contributing to the candidates, and most importantly, the candidates working just as hard as they can. If there’s any of these candidates in Ohio or Pennsylvania or Arizona that are working harder than anybody that’s on their campaign staff, they’re not working hard enough,” the Iowa senator told Fox News Digital.
Grassley thinks that McConnell is trying to grab Republican voters by the shoulders and shake the complacency out of them. His Eeyore routine may have backfired, however. The Republican base doesn’t like to be told they blew it in choosing Trump loyalists to run for office. And neither does Trump.