Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that he is increasingly optimistic Republicans will maintain control of the Senate, calling a GOP defeat in November a “scary prospect” for voters who want to see more conservative judges on the nation’s courts.
In an interview with NPR’s Kelsey Snell, McConnell said he generally refrains from making predictions but that he’s pleased with how the midterm elections are shaping up for Senate Republicans.
“I’m increasingly optimistic that we may hold our majority,” McConnell said.
He added that the recent battle over the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh helped bring the importance of keeping control of the Senate into focus for Republican voters who may not have been tuned in previously.
“One of the good things about the Supreme Court fight is it underscores for Republican voters that the Senate is in the personnel business,” McConnell said. “Lose the Senate and the project of confirming judges is over for the last two years of President Trump. That, I think, is a scary prospect to the people who like what we’ve been doing on the judge project, and I hope will help us hold on to our majority.”
Republicans hold a 51-to-49 majority in the Senate.
McConnell’s comments mark a departure from the decidedly more pessimistic tone he struck last month, when he described several competitive Senate races as “too close to call, and every one of them like a knife fight in an alley.”
Public polling at the time showed Democratic candidates gaining ground in several key races and Trump’s approval rating ticking lower. Since then, political handicappers have forecast that a blue wave is likely to lead to a Democratic takeover of the House, but not the Senate.