As Democrats continue to reel from an unexpected loss in purple Virginia and a near upset in the blue state of New Jersey, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) predicted that these elections are an indication that the 2022 midterms will be “very good for Republicans.”
“I think the fall of ’22 is likely to be a very good election for Republicans,” McConnell told reporters while visiting his home state of Kentucky on Monday.
McConnell posited optimistically that Republicans may take both chambers of Congress in the upcoming election season.
Currently, Democrats control 220 seats in the House to Republicans’ 212 seats, a razor-thin majority for the lower chamber. Already, this thin majority has caused problems for Democratic leadership, as infighting has led to threats from moderates and progressives to withhold their votes on bills put forward by President Joe Biden.
In 2022, to keep even this squabbling majority, Democrats can only spare three of those seats.
In the Senate, Democrats have an even thinner majority—the thinnest possible. The Democratic coalition in the upper chamber controls 50 seats plus the vote of the Vice President, giving the party a single vote over Republicans’ 50 seats.
“I’m very optimistic. We have 50 Republicans senators,” McConnell commented. He added, “I know what a real minority looks like. We had 40 after President [Barack] Obama got elected.”
For a short time following the election of Obama, Senate Democrats controlled a supermajority of 60 senators, a feat surpassed only by the Democrats in the 74th Congress under President Franklin Roosevelt.
McConnell continued, “I think the wind is going to be at our back in both the House and Senate. I think there’s a great likelihood of a pretty good election next year.”
McConnell’s optimism about his party’s chances in the next midterm election is shared by several others in the party, who predict that Democrats will be steamrolled in the face of discontent over Biden’s policies, including his much-criticized Afghanistan withdrawal, unprecedented inflation, energy shortages, and supply chain issues.
The results from Virginia and New Jersey have only strengthened Republicans in this belief.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) gave a stern warning to Democrats after the results of the elections came in, saying on Wednesday, “If you’re a Democrat and President Biden won your seat by 16 points, you’re in a competitive race next year. You are no longer safe.”
On Monday, McCarthy followed up this warning by unveiling several “Young Guns,” Republican candidates considered to be strong contenders for seats currently held by Democrats.
The program, directed by McCarthy himself with the aid of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), has an impressive track record. In 2020, 25 of the 36 Young Guns were elected, and the program has seen more than 150 candidates elected during its lifetime.
Last week, the NRCC released a list of 57 Democrats currently in Congress whose seats, according to the NRCC, are vulnerable. Later, 13 more were added, bringing the list up to 70 seats that Republicans consider flippable, and these seats will likely be the focus of Republican funding in the 2022 midterm.
“In a cycle like this, no Democrat is safe,” said NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer. “Voters are rejecting Democrat policies that have caused massive price increases, opened our borders, and spurred a nationwide crime wave.”
McCarthy said of these vulnerable seats, “There’s many that are going to lose their races based upon walking off a cliff from Nancy Pelosi pushing them. She may not care if she loses—she lost 63 the last time she was Speaker, moving policy that the country didn’t care for.”
The NRCC cited polling data as a sign of this prediction.
According to Rasmussen’s daily presidential tracking poll, Biden’s approval rating has dropped consistently since March, when it reached a high of 55 percent approval; Currently, Rasmussen projects only a 42 percent approval rating for the sitting president.
Already this year, vulnerable Democrats have distanced themselves from the president, fearing that voters’ negative feelings toward Biden could affect their own 2022 elections.
And polls have shown concerning signs for congressional Democrats in 2022.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll, 47 percent of likely voters said that they would prefer to see Republicans in charge of Congress if elections were held today while only 44 percent said that they would prefer Democrats keep control of the legislature. Moreover, the same poll showed that 63 percent of likely voters disapprove of the way Democrats in Congress are handling their job.
Masooma Haq contributed to this report.