McCarthy predicts House Republicans hold majority in midterms
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (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.
“You know, when I look at retirement, I look at retirements for the Republicans who retired in seats that Hillary Clinton carried and Democrats who retired in seats that Donald Trump 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 Clinton 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 Ryan (R-Wis.) is retiring at the end of his term. He has endorsed McCarthy as his successor.
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