WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, beaming with confidence after having proved his doubters wrong and expanded his majority in the midterm elections, vowed without hesitation that the Democratic Party will keep control again in two years.
“Yes, I absolutely do, if we stick to our North Star, which is, help people with things that they need help with,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said in an interview Wednesday in the Capitol.
It will be a herculean task. Democrats are defending three seats in the Republican-leaning states of West Virginia, Montana and Ohio. They’re looking to hold five more seats in the closely divided states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada and Arizona, where Sen. Kyrsten Sinema recently quit the party and became an independent. And their best pickup opportunities are in Republican-trending Florida and the GOP stronghold of Texas.
To get there, Schumer promised that Democrats will govern and campaign over the next two years as pragmatists, not ideologues. “We believe government should help everyday families, but on things they care about, not in some ideological way," he said.
Schumer attributed his confidence to two factors.
First, he said, the Democratic-led Congress’ recent achievements will deliver results over the next two years that voters will reward. He cited the Inflation Reduction Act's provisions to lower prescription medicine prices and cap Medicare out-of-pocket drug costs at $2,000 a year. And he said infrastructure spending will ramp up and semiconductors plants will be built because of the CHIPS and Science Act.
“There’s a lot of benefits that are already in the pipeline,” he said.
Second, he argued, Democrats won this year by driving a contrast with Republicans, running as a party that’s “getting things done,” as opposed to a GOP that he claimed has been captured by extremist forces aligned with former President Donald Trump. Schumer pointed to the newly conservative Supreme Court, which rolled back abortion rights and expanded the right to carry guns this year.
As a result, Schumer warned that suburban voters who have ditched the GOP in recent years will see no reason to return, calling it “part of a realignment” in the American electorate.
“The MAGA influence on the party will not go away very quickly. They’re very strong. They’re very active. They’re hard-right,” he said, arguing that “that MAGA group that’s way out there” will hurt Republicans even if Trump isn’t their 2024 presidential nominee.
“You put those two things together, and I think the election results in 2024 might be better than a lot of people are now predicting,” he said.
Republicans are pointing fingers over a disastrous 2022 election result, in which they squandered a host of opportunities to pick up seats as midterm elections almost always benefit the party out of the White House. Instead, Democrats expanded their Senate majority from 50 to 51 seats.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., blamed the party’s poor showing on “candidate quality” problems in key races, arguing that Trump’s endorsements propelled flawed candidates in GOP primaries in states like Arizona and Georgia, who went on to lose to Democrats in the general election.
“I do think we have an opportunity to relearn, one more time: We have to have quality candidates to win in competitive Senate races,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday.
Asked Wednesday whether the party will be more active in picking candidates in primaries, Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., the incoming chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said simply: “We want to win general elections.”