Republicans are not being “overconfident” in their expectations of taking the House, GOP Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Fox News on April 17, rejecting comments made by other Republican leaders that the race could still go in Democrats’ favor.
Currently, Democrats hold a thin majority in the House. In 2018, the party won control of the lower chamber, but since then, that majority has been decreasing. Amid dwindling approval ratings for President Joe Biden in addition to rising inflation and gas prices, many observers expect Republicans to retake a majority in the House later this year.
However, some others have warned the party against becoming overly optimistic about its prospects.
“How could you screw this up?” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said when discussing the GOP’s congressional prospects in November. “It’s actually possible. And we’ve had some experience with that in the past.”
Likewise, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who has become highly prominent in the party during the 117th Congress, warned his party in February against becoming “overconfident” about the results of the election.
However, McCarthy has long maintained a far more optimistic attitude toward his party’s prospects.
“We’re going to win the majority, and it’s not going to be a five-seat majority,” McCarthy said earlier this year.
On April 17, McCarthy defended his optimism against critics calling for a more cautious attitude toward the midterms.
“Is there any chance Republicans are a little overconfident this year?” Fox host Mike Emmanuel asked McCarthy.
“No, we’re not overconfident,” McCarthy said, “but the one thing you have to look at, why are the president’s approval numbers so low?”
According to Rasmussen’s daily presidential tracking poll, Biden’s poll numbers have remained well below Trump’s at the same point in his own presidency. On April 18, Biden’s poll numbers went up to 44 percent approval, a substantial increase from previous weeks, but he still remains six points behind Trump’s job approval at the same point.
McCarthy and other Republicans have emphasized this low approval rating as a sign that they’re in good shape to retake the House in November.
Driving the fall in Biden’s approval rating is “the wasteful, irresponsible spending that has led to higher prices and inflation,” McCarthy said on April 17. “It’s the irresponsible actions of this president along the border that has led to an immigration and fentanyl crisis. It’s the irresponsible policies of this administration that has led to dangerous streets, ineffective schools, and that has got to stop.”
“But it’s got to be more than just to criticize them,” he said. “What Americans want, need, and deserve is a clear, common-sense alternative.
“That’s what’s happening with the House Republicans. We will provide to the American public a commitment to America, one that could stop this runaway spending that causes inflation. That we’re able to become energy independent, not dependent on Russia or any other country for our energy, and lower the price of fuel.
“We will make our streets, our schools, safe again.
“We will secure our border to stop this immigration crisis, but more important, to stop the fentanyl that is coming into America. We just found that fentanyl is now the No. 1 cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45.
“And it’s not because Americans are taking more drugs. They are actually taking less. What’s coming across this border … [is] more dangerous. That’s the difference of why the president’s approval ratings are so low, and that’s why America will make a new course and Republicans will take the majority.”
Currently, Democrats have far outstripped Republicans in retirements, with over thirty Democrats announcing their intention not to seek reelection in 2022. Republicans have taken the retirements as another hopeful sign for their prospects.
In addition, the National Republican Congressional Committee, a top GOP fundraising and strategizing group, currently considers 70 seats held by Democrats to be vulnerable, potentially setting the stage for massive Republican gains in the midterms.
Still, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has continued to maintain that her caucus will keep control of the House, despite portentous signs to the contrary.
Other Democrats, however, are less sanguine.
In February, billionaire and former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Bloomberg warned that Democrats are “headed for a wipeout in November, up and down the ballot,” unless an “immediate course correction” is implemented.
Bloomberg pointed primarily to the surprising result of the 2021 governor’s race in Virginia, where Republican Glenn Youngkin was elected by margins that far exceeded expectations. Even in New Jersey, which last voted to send a Republican to the White House in 1988, the GOP gubernatorial challenger came close to defeating the incumbent Democrat.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.