'The most powerful Republican in Washington?' McConnell's steamrolling of Trump on stimulus signals a 'shift' for GOP
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Gage Skidmore.)

Whatever happens on Tuesday, November 3 — whether President Donald Trump wins a second term or is defeated by former Vice President Joe Biden — one Republican who is likely to maintain his prominence in 2021, assuming he is reelected, is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Reporter Alexander Bolton, in an article published in The Hill on October 22, examines the Trump/McConnell relationship and a "possible future" for McConnell that "might no longer include President Trump."

If Democrats achieve a majority in the U.S. Senate and flip enough GOP-held seats but McConnell is among the Republican incumbents who survives a blue wave, he would likely go from being Senate majority leader to Senate minority leader — in other words, he would still be the top Republican in the U.S. Senate. And Bolton, in his article, stresses that McConnell's political future doesn't rest on Trump winning a second term.

The subtle "shift" in the McConnell/Trump relationship, according to Bolton, "has been most apparent in the dynamics surrounding negotiations on a new coronavirus relief package."

Bolton explains, "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has sought to avoid a vote on a massive stimulus package that would badly divide the Senate GOP conference right before Election Day, even as Trump urges Republican senators to 'go big.' McConnell told Republican colleagues at a lunch meeting Tuesday that he warned the White House against a vote on a massive stimulus package before Election Day."

In Kentucky's U.S. Senate race, a Mason-Dixon poll released on October 21 showed McConnell leading centrist Democratic challenger Amy McGrath by 9%. McGrath knew she was fighting an uphill battle when she entered the race: Kentucky is a deep red state, and McConnell was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984.

According to Bolton, there is "no real question of McConnell's loyalty to Trump." The Senate majority leader, Bolton notes, "has publicly predicted that Trump will win reelection" and "has pulled out all the stops" to get Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, confirmed before November 3.

Bolton adds, however, "At the same time, GOP senators say the dynamics also illustrate a reality that many GOP senators aren't sure Trump, who is trailing Democratic nominee Joe Biden in polls two weeks before Election Day, will be around after January 20."

A Republican senator, quoted anonymously, told The Hill, "There is this growing sense that if it's more likely that Republicans retain the majority and the president is not reelected, then obviously, McConnell becomes the most powerful Republican in Washington."

Bolton notes that Republicans, in light of the Mason Dixon poll showing McConnell ahead of McGrath by 9%, aren't too worried about McConnell being voted out of office — but that "Trump's position is much more precarious as polls show him trailing in a slew of key battleground states including Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania (and) Wisconsin."