“Masterful” tactician Mitch McConnell got a lot things wrong this cycle.
Turns out Donald Trump wasn’t exactly “a fading brand.” Indeed, Trump still had the juice to handpick nearly all the Republican candidates in the cycle’s most important races.
Turns out Georgia GOP senatorial nominee Herschel Walker wasn’t “the only one who can unite the party, defeat Senator Warnock, and help us take back the Senate.”
And although McConnell was right that “candidate quality” doomed Republicans’ chances of retaking the Senate, he wasn’t exactly honest about his share of the blame for the Senate GOP’s horrific slate. First off, if McConnell had convinced just 17 of his GOP colleagues to convict Trump during his Jan. 6 impeachment trial, Trump wouldn’t have wielded so much power over the GOP’s slate. Second, if McConnell had succeeded in recruiting candidates like former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey or New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, perhaps Republicans’ candidate quality wouldn’t have been so epically dismal. But neither Ducey nor Sununu wanted any part of McConnell’s do-nothing caucus, and that’s not Donald Trump’s fault.
The bottom line here is the fact that the Republican Party has slipped away from McConnell without him even knowing it. Trump’s power is at its lowest point since he first won the general election in 2016, yet he remains far more powerful than McConnell.
The reason is that Trumpism has overtaken the party, accounting for its biggest bump in voters possibly since the GOP tax-cutters formed an unholy alliance with the evangelicals back in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s. (That assertion is just a guess, by the way).
At the same time that Trump brought more voters into the GOP field, McConnell’s bread-and-butter suburban voters have slowly migrated toward Democrats. So although McConnell is still a whopper fundraiser, for the foreseeable future he’ll likely have slim-to-none quality candidates on which to spend his war chest.
In essence, McConnell has almost no constituency left except for a loyal cohort of well-heeled donors who haven’t quite realized the once-celebrated tactician has lost his grip.
Just for kicks, let’s take a look at Civiqs tracking of McConnell’s favorability rating among all voters:
Just 6% – yikes!
But what about among Republican voters?
Just 12% – yikes! (Even at a very low moment for Trump, some three-quarters of GOP voters still view him favorably.)
So what do independents think of McConnell?
And while we’re at it, here’s the icing on the cake – Nancy Pelosi’s favorability rating among registered voters: 39% favorable, 55% unfavorable.
Despite enduring more than a decade of GOP demonization, Pelosi polls better overall than either Trump (34%) or McConnell (6%). She also polls at 81% among Democratic voters versus McConnell’s pitiful 12% showing among Republicans. But we digress.
McConnell may not realize it yet, but the only thing he’s got left is his caucus—and that’s entirely contingent on his ability to continue bringing in gobs of cash. One has to wonder how long before McConnell’s power base collapses entirely.