"Pretty ballsy": How McConnell and Trump blew away Senate Democrats

The intense focus on the most fertile states — Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, and Florida, three GOP-controlled states with open seats, Tennessee, Arizona, and Nevada — wasn’t an accident. McConnell and his lieutenants made the decision to fight on friendly territory and not try to shoot for a filibuster-proof majority, which was not beyond the realm of possibility two years ago.

McConnell had developed a mantra informed from his own history as two-term NRSC chairman: Don’t fall in love with the map. Trump had won 10 states where Democratic senators were now facing reelection, raising hopes that Republicans could pile up victories in those states and stirring fears among Democrats of spending money in the populous, pricey states of Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

When spring of 2018 came around, GOP groups were preparing to decide where to spend their money. When the time came to discuss publicly where the battle to control the Senate would be lost or won, McConnell looked straight past the Rust Belt that had put Trump over the top and focused on more inviting targets.