McConnell Says GOP Has 50-50 Chance of Holding Senate

October 29, 2020 Updated: October 29, 2020

With Election Day five days away, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told his supporters in Kentucky that the chances of Republicans keeping the upper chamber are “50-50.”

“It’s a 50-50 proposition. We have a lot of exposure. This is a huge Republican class,” McConnell said Wednesday during a campaign stop in Kentucky. “There are dogfights all over the country.”

Democrats are defending 12 Senate seats, while Republicans are defending 23, putting them at a disadvantage. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report listed nine Republican-held seats as either leaning Democratic or toss-ups and only one Democrat-held seat as leaning Republican.

In order to take back the Senate, Democrats would have to pick up at least three additional seats, shifting the balance on the current 53-47 GOP majority. Democrats are putting millions of dollars into key states to pick up those seats, including McConnell’s’ home state of Kentucky and Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) state of South Carolina.

In addition, Democrats have put big money and advertising into Democrat candidates in Maine, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Montana, Arizona, and North Carolina.

In South Carolina, Graham is defending his seat against Jaime Harrison, associate chairman of the Democratic National Committee. While recent polls showed the candidates tied, Trump carried the state by 14 points in 2016, which may give Graham a boost, though Harris has far exceeded Graham in terms of fundraising.

According to OpenSecrets.org, Harrison raised over $85 million between 2019 and 2020, setting a new record. The second was Amy McGrath, who raised $82 million and is running against McConnell in Kentucky. In Arizona, Mark Kelly also raised about $82 million. He is running against Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.).

Senators not only vote on legislation, but also on presidential appointments, including federal judges and Supreme Court justices. While major legislation needs 60 votes to clear a Senate filibuster, a simple majority can pass budget measures and approve appointments.

With the GOP holding a narrow majority, President Donald Trump was able to get not only his signature tax cuts bill in 2017 but also appoint close to 300 judges and three Supreme Court justices, shaping the judiciary for decades to come.