McCarthy predicts House Republicans hold majority in midterms

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthy10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable Furious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble MORE (R-Calif.) said Tuesday that he’s confident Republicans will hold on to the lower chamber in November despite facing a challenging midterm election cycle.

The California Republican said he does not “believe we'll have that option" when asked by GOP strategist Frank Luntz how effective he would be as a minority leader. 

Speaking at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference, McCarthy acknowledged that there are a number of members leaving office at the end of this term, but doesn’t feel that will cost Republicans the majority after researching past election cycle patterns.

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“You know, when I look at retirement, I look at retirements for the Republicans who retired in seats that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Democrats fear Ohio slipping further away in 2020 Poll: Warren leads Biden in Maine by 12 points MORE carried and Democrats who retired in seats that Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE carried — you know what that number is? Five to four,” he said. “We'll pick up two seats in Minnesota.”

McCarthy noted it won’t be easy, but argued recent economic growth will help stave off Democrats from regaining control.

“We have our challenge — history says the party in power loses 29 seats in an off year and 23 seats is our majority,” he continued. “In January, I gave this presentation — it was plus 12 for the Democrats. Today, if you take a rolling average, just plus 5.5. We have a 4-point advantage — if we get 49 percent of the national vote, we'll have 53 percent of the seats.”

The California Republican likened the circumstances to the 1998 election cycle, where Republicans failed to pick up seats despite expecting gains due to the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonMellman: Which is the right question? NY prosecutors urge appeals court not to block subpoena for Trump's tax returns Sherrod Brown: 'Terrible mistake' for Democratic nominee to support 'Medicare for All' MORE was impeached at the time, all polling said Republicans were going to gain seats — the election came, Democrats gained five in the House, broke even in the Senate,” he said.

“How is that possible? Bill Clinton had six quarters of economic growth. Republicans had shut the government down and lost the argument, he triangulated on the issues and Clinton focused on economic issues.”

McCarthy argued that Democrats lost the messaging war over who shut down the government earlier this year, adding he feels Republicans will have an even easier time holding on to the upper chamber.

“The Senate has a much different map — I wish I had the Senate map, unfortunately for Chuck [Schumer] it doesn't benefit him, but each cycle is different,” he said, referring to the Senate Democratic leader. “They're playing in a place that's more beholden on the Trump states. I know what the odds say, but I'd much rather be sitting where we are than where they are. We'll have a new leadership team; they'll have the same.“

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash: Trump incorrect in claiming Congress didn't subpoena Obama officials Democrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate MORE (R-Wis.) is retiring at the end of his term. He has endorsed McCarthy as his successor.