“It’s no secret that we’ve lost ground in suburban areas"

A Republican leadership aide familiar with McConnell’s thinking said he wants to make the 2022 midterms a referendum on President Joe Biden, hoping that disenchantment over inflation and gas prices will power the GOP back into the majority. “Not about Trump. Not about guns. Not about abortion. But about the things that are really keeping people up at night,” the source said. That means “taking your foot off the gas occasionally” from opposition if a deal is popular, without sacrificing his principles, the aide said.

McConnell’s theory is based on a political realignment: Since 2012, culturally conservative and rural areas that used to be divided between the parties have swung sharply toward Republicans, while the more moderate and well-educated suburbs that once voted GOP have trended toward Democrats. With big cities still deeply Democratic, suburbanites appear to be the new swing voters, and many of them fled the GOP after the rise of Trump.

But McConnell has a problem: He’s outnumbered in his own party as those cultural issues remain a major driving force for Republicans, who remain predominantly pro-Trump. And the bipartisan agreements he has endorsed — from the gun law to an infrastructure package to an emerging deal to prevent future election coups — are unlikely to play well in GOP primaries or with conservative voters…

McConnell has another problem: The suburbs are more liberal and diverse than they were a decade or two ago, undergoing a generational shift and increasingly populated by millennials, who overall identify as more liberal than their Generation X elders or baby boomer parents.