- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s “optimistic” about 2022.
- The Republican said the midterms are “likely to be a very good election for Republicans.”
- There are 34 Senate seats up for grabs next year.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday said he’s optimistic about the 2022 midterm elections for Republicans.
The highest-ranking GOP senator prefaced his view by pointing out a recent NBC News poll that found that 71% of Americans say the nation is headed in the wrong direction.
“I’ve been around a lot. I don’t remember a 71% wrong track before,” McConnell said during a press conference at St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Life Learning Center in Kentucky. “I think the fall of ’22 is likely to be a very good election for Republicans.”
When asked about former President Donald Trump’s role in the party, the Kentucky Republican reiterated that his focus is on the future, not the past.
“Elections going forward are about the present and not the past. About the future, about what this administration is doing and how the country feels about it,” McConnell said. “I’m very optimistic. We have 50 Republicans senators. I know what a real minority looks like. We had 40 after President Obama got elected.”
“I think the wind is going to be at our back in both the House and Senate,” he continued. “I think there’s a great likelihood of a pretty good election next year. But I think the issue will not be about anything that may have happened in the past, but about what’s going on now.”
Democrats currently hold a thin majority, 222-213, in the House, while the Senate is evenly split 50-50. All 435 House seats and 34 Senate seats – 20 held by Republicans and 14 held by Democrats – are up for reelection next year.
Historically, voters tend to elect the opposite party of the president in a midterm election, which could mean the odds are stacked against Democrats in 2022.
McConnell’s comments come in the aftermath of last week’s gubernatorial elections in Virginia, where Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly lost to his GOP opponent Glenn Youngkin, and in New Jersey, where incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was almost defeated by his Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. Ciattarelli still has not conceded.
McConnell said the recent statewide elections were a chance for voters to express themselves.
“Obviously, New Jersey voters were mad as hell at the national administration,” McConnell said. “The only thing they could do is go and vote against Democrats in New Jersey.”
On Virginia, McConnell said “it was more complicated than just a referendum on the president, although the president’s unpopularity, according to the Democratic candidate McAuliffe, was a problem.”
President Joe Biden’s approval rating has slipped since the summer. Around half of the country disapproves of the job he’s doing, according to national poll averages compiled by FiveThirtyEight.