A new interview with Mitch McConnell this week showed the first cracks in the wall of his optimism about the midterms. While not going down a path of gloom and doom, he no longer sounds positive of breaking a long-standing trend of the party in power losing ground in such scenarios. He’s not coming out and saying the GOP’s majorities in both chambers are toast, but he seems to think they’ll be losing seats. (The Hill)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says in a new interview that he expects to see GOP majorities in the House and Senate shrink in November as a result of the 2018 midterms.
The top Republican in the Senate told The New York Times that “the odds are” his party will face net losses in both chambers of Congress this year, the first time McConnell has made such an admission publicly.

“The odds are that we will lose seats in the House and the Senate,” McConnell said.

“History tells you that, the fired-up nature of the political left tells you that. We go into this cleareyed that this is going to be quite a challenging election,” he added.

McConnell looks like he’s zigging when everyone else zags. It seemed like everyone was predicting that the Democrats would at least take the Senate back before Christmas, but Mitch was all sunshine and roses. Now that Trump’s numbers have begun to creep back up and some GOP strategists have a bit more spring in their step, McConnell is lowering expectations.

The biggest question is the Senate, of course, and you’d expect the Majority Leader to be more in tune with that. But how many seats are going to flip and which way will they go? The Democrats need at least a net pickup of two now that the Alabama mess is settled. Granted, we’re probably going to lose Nevada because Dean Heller is in a deep hole right now, being attacked from both sides. The #RESIST movement there is strong and Hillary carried the state easily. It looked like we were going to lose Arizona with Flake’s retirement, but if the primary electorate there can settle down and nominate Martha McSally, we could be in good shape. (Nominating Joe Arpaio, on the other hand, would likely turn into Roy Moore Phase Two.)

But let’s say the Dems take Arizona. There’s your flip, right? Not so fast. That means they still have to hang on to all of the more than two dozen of their own they’re defending. And those include:

  • Missouri: Claire McCaskill
  • Indiana: Joe Donnelly
  • West Virginia: Joe Manchin
  • North Dakota: Heidi Heitkamp
  • Montana: Jon Tester
  • Ohio: Sherrod Brown

Granted, they’ll probably keep some of them. But all of them? Particularly looking at McCaskill, Donnelly and Manchin, I’m thinking it’s going to have to be a tsunami and not just a “wave” to go three for three there. As usual, we should remind ourselves that it’s still ridiculously early in the year to pretend that anything is set in stone, and one turn of the news cycle can change any number of things. But as it stands right now, particularly if Trump can somehow keep his nose above water in the mid-forties, it looks like the Democrats have a massive amount of work ahead of them. All the GOP really needs to do at this point is avoid being stupid.

Okay… I didn’t say was a sure thing.