- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is predicting a “ticket-splitting kind of year,” saying the two major parties’ likely presidential nominees probably aren’t going to create down-ballot coattails along the lines of what President Obama had during his 2008 campaign.

“Regardless of what happens at the top of the ticket, you have two nominees here who we know for sure are very unpopular,” Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said on Tuesday evening’s “The Kelly File” on Fox News.

Both presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump and likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton have had unfavorable ratings hovering around 60 percent in recent surveys.

Mr. McConnell said that neither can count on a level of support along the lines of 2008, where one party sweeps the White House, House, and Senate, and voters not only elect a president, but say “we want you to do anything you want to.”

“This is going to be a ticket-splitting kind of year,” he said. “We do have a lot of exposure … 24 members up and only 10 Democrats.”

“But they’re very popular incumbents,” he said. “People like [New Hampshire Sen.] Kelly Ayotte and [Pennsylvania Sen.] Pat Toomey and [Ohio Sen.] Rob Portman and others.”

A few weeks ago, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus had said it can be tough to separate the Senate races from the top of the ticket.

Mr. Priebus had been speaking in the context of how the RNC is going to be heavily invested in states like New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — states that figure to be competitive both in the presidential and U.S. Senate contests.

“It’s very difficult to win Senate races if you’re not doing well at the top of the ticket,” Mr. Priebus told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “That’s why for people out there, you know, it’s an all or nothing deal. I mean, [you’ve] got to be in for the whole ticket, because it’s very, you cannot just leap over the top of the top of the ticket. So it really is a team effort up and down the ballot.”

Republicans currently hold an effective 54-46 majority in the U.S. Senate. In addition to the lopsided number of seats they’re defending compared to Democrats, they’re also trying to hold onto a handful of seats in states Mr. Obama carried twice.

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