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The single most ridiculous claim in Donald Trump’s statement slamming Mitch McConnell

Former President Donald Trump made a number of wild claims in a statement Tuesday savaging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. But one really stood out to me: His insistence that he had “single-handedly saved” more than a dozen Senate seats — including McConnell’s! — from falling into the clutches of Democrats over the past two elections.

Here’s Trump:

“In ‘Mitch’s Senate,’ over the last two election cycles, I single-handedly saved at least 12 Senate seats, more than eight in the 2020 cycle alone—and then came the Georgia disaster, where we should have won both U.S. Senate seats, but McConnell matched the Democrat offer of $2,000 stimulus checks with $600…

“….My only regret is that McConnell ‘begged’ for my strong support and endorsement before the great people of Kentucky in the 2020 election, and I gave it to him. He went from one point down to 20 points up, and won.”

Let’s start with the second claim first — that, without Trump’s help, McConnell would have lost his reelection bid to Democrat Amy McGrath.

In early July, on the same day that McGrath officially entered the race, Trump tweeted out a full-throated endorsement of McConnell. “Why would Kentucky ever think of giving up the most powerful position in Congress, the Senate Majority Leader, for a freshman Senator with little power in what will hopefully be the minority party,” tweeted Trump. “We need Mitch in the Senate to Keep America Great!!”

Trump appears to be citing a May 2020 poll conducted for US Term Limits that showed McGrath at 41% to 40% for McConnell. But that’s the only poll conducted in the entirety of the race that showed it even close. McConnell’s chances of winning the race never dropped below 93% in 538’s projections. He wound up winning by almost 20 points, the second-largest margin of victory in his six terms in office.

The idea that Trump somehow “saved” McConnell in the 2020 contest is, in a word, laughable. “I personally showed Trump polling in the Oval Office that had @Team_Mitch up 20 points,” tweeted Kevin McLaughlin, who ran the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 2020 cycle, on Tuesday night. “He knows this isn’t true.”

Now, let’s turn to Trump’s other major contention — that he “single-handedly” saved eight Senate seats in the 2020 election. Assuming he, wrongly, counts the McConnell race as one that he saved, what are the other seven?

Start here: Democrats wound up netting three seats by beating four incumbents — one each in Colorado and Arizona and two in Georgia. Republicans flipped only a single seat to their side — beating Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in the strongly Republican state of Alabama. In all four of the seats Democrats won, they ran heavily on Trump’s unpopularity — especially among suburban voters and women.

So, where, exactly did Trump save Republican seats?

While “save” is too strong a word and “single-handedly saved” is WAY too strong, it seems to me that Trump’s strength among the Republican base — and his ability to turn them out — helped Sens. Joni Ernst (Iowa), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Steve Daines (Montana) win by comfortable margins against serious Democratic challengers. And Trump carrying North Carolina –albeit narrowly — probably helped Sen. Thom Tillis (R) get over the finish line ahead of his Democratic challenger. (Worth noting: Reports of extramarital affair involving the Democratic nominee also clearly played a role.)

But beyond those four-ish races, I struggle to find more where Trump played any major role in the GOP candidate’s victory. Certainly not Maine, where Sen. Susan Collins (R) won reelection by a stunning 9 points even while being bashed for her ties to Trump in a state the 45th president lost by 9 points. In Texas, Sen. John Cornyn would have won with or without Trump. (Cornyn won his race by 9.5 points; Trump carried Texas by just 5.5.) Ditto Dan Sullivan in Alaska and Roger Marshall in Kansas.

There’s just no way that any even semi-objective look at the 2020 map produces eight seats that Trump “saved.” It takes a generous read of the map to give him partial credit for wins in even half of that number.

What’s Trump up to, then? H;’s rewriting the history of his presidency to suggest that without him the Republican Party would be absolutely nowhere. Of course, the reality is this: Trump left Washington with Republicans having lost the White House, Senate and House during his four years. Facts are stubborn things, huh?

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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