Mr McConnell made the comment last week while setting expectations for the GOP’s chances during the upcoming midterm elections. At this time last year analysts were predicting a “red wave” that would inevitably flip both the House and the Senate back into Republican hands for the remainder of Joe Biden’s first term as president.
However, recent Democratic victories — like Mr Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan, cooling inflation and a recently passed climate and tax bill — paired with Democrats’ fury over the overturning of Roe v Wade has changed the predictions of some political analysts.
The Senate minority leader naturally did not credit the Democrats with the shifting momentum, but instead highlighted another problem his party is facing ahead of the midterms – a slate of inexperienced MAGA-world bombthrower candidates actually may not fare so well outside of deep red districts.
This prompted Mr McConnell to warn that “there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate”.
“Senate races are just different – they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” he said in an address to the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
House races are district-based, and gerrymandering allows for parties to carve out districts filled with likeminded voters, allowing individuals like Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Boebert to ascend to office and remain in comfortably Republican seats.
In a state-wide race, these kinds of candidates can’t rely on their districts eliminating a large swath of voters who would likely vote against them, making them far less viable.
During an appearance on Fox News, anchor Maria Bartiromo brought up Mr McConnell’s comments to Dr Oz.
“Are you getting support from the Republican Party?” she asked. “Look, let’s face it, people were a little taken back the other day when Mitch McConnell comes out and says, ‘Well, it’s probably 50/50, we’re not going to win because we have some bad candidates.’”
The anchor then addressed Dr Oz directly, asking if Mr McConnell was “talking about you?”
Dr Oz has been stumbling over himself for the past several months in his attempts to undermine his opponent, Democrat John Fetterman. The celebrity doctor’s campaign has tried to link Mr Fetterman with popular Democrats like Senator Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rather than less popular Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
A recent campaign video showed the Republican gawking at relatively normal grocery prices, misstating the name of the store he was at and trying to connect with rural and blue-collar Pennsylvanian voters by talking about shopping for his wife’s desired crudité.
Meanwhile, Mr Fetterman has been slamming Dr Oz as a carpetbagger from New Jersey who owns 10 properties and is out of touch with the concerns of the average Pennsylvanian voter.
Despite his fumbles, Dr Oz assured Ms Bartiromo that Mr McConnell was not talking about him.
“He was not,” he replied. “And I’ll tell you, he expressed himself quite clearly with his pocketbook. He’s put $34m into my race. That’s a lot of money.”
Dr Oz insisted that he was a quality candidate because he was “out there” campaigning, and thus Mr McConnell could not have meant him. During one of his most recent campaign stops “out there” among the voters, Dr Oz was filmed fleeing from a resident asking him about reproductive health rights and inflation.
It’s also worth noting that while Dr Oz brags about Mr McConnell’s support of his campaign, the Republican Senatorial Committee recently slashed millions in ad funding in Pennsylvania and other battleground states where they apparently have lost faith in some of their candidates.