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Political establishment takes a hit as chaos reigns supreme

Political establishment takes a hit as chaos reigns supreme
© Greg Nash

More than 120,000 people have died from the COVID-19 pandemic, racial tensions are higher than they’ve been since the 1960’s and the economy has tanked. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that four out of every five Americans think things in this country are out of control.  

Since chaos in this country reigns supreme, it should not be a shock that the political establishment has taken a big hit. The Democratic establishment took one (or a few) on the chin in primaries last week in New York City and in Kentucky. On the Republican side of the aisle, the party’s leader President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE hit a low point in his campaign for a second term.

In New York, the contest was a study in contrasts. Democratic Rep. and chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelTrump relents as GSA informs Biden transition to begin Dozens of progressive groups endorse Joaquin Castro for Foreign Affairs chair Castro pledges to term limit himself if elected Foreign Affairs chair MORE, a white man, lost his campaign for a 16th term to Jamaal Bowman, an African American man who is a former middle school principal. 

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The outcome of the Democratic primary in the Bluegrass State, which will decide who will face off against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAs Biden administration ramps up, Trump legal effort drags on Harris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (R-Ky.) in November, is still in doubt. Early returns have State Representative Charles Booker, a progressive, leading former Marine pilot Amy McGrath. If Booker does prevail after the mail-in ballots are counted, it will be a major upset. After all, McGrath secured the endorsement of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and raised more than 40 million dollars. Booker spent a small fraction of that, but his campaign caught on when he participated in demonstrations against the killing of an African American E.M.T. Breonna Taylor by Louisville, Ky., police.

The big surge of support for Black candidates after George Floyd’s murder played a role in the outcome of the Bowman and Booker campaigns. The other factor was the endorsements the candidates received from the iron triangle of anti-establishment, leftist lawmakers Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Prepare for buyers' remorse when Biden/Harris nationalize health care MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Disney laying off 32,000 workers as coronavirus batters theme parks Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezTrump tweets Thanksgiving criticism of NFL QBs for kneeling Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-N.Y.). AOC handily won her own primary last week. The growing influence of the progressive power trio represents a significant challenge to the Democratic leaders in Congress, House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration Voters say Biden should make coronavirus vaccine a priority: poll New York City subway service could be slashed 40 percent, officials warn MORE (D-N.Y.).

As worrisome as it is to be part of the Democratic leadership, it’s a lot worse to be a power player in the GOP. Donald Trump took over the party lock, stock and barrel in 2016 and now the tides seem to be shifting away from him.

Not only does the GOP establishment have to cope with an American electorate that is disillusioned with the status quo in the U.S., it has the added burden of the crushing weight of a president who has bottomed out when it comes to job approval.

The most telling sign of Trump’s decline was his sad standing in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation US records 2,300 COVID-19 deaths as pandemic rises with holidays MORE led Trump in each of the six states by at least six percent. If Biden holds his lead in these states, the Democratic candidate will succeed by a massive Electoral College landslide. 

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With Trump in the polling dump, the GOP is in danger of being shut out at the national level. In this political environment, Republicans have little chance of winning a majority in the House of Republicans and could lose control of the Senate. McConnell faces a challenge for his own seat this year, which ultimately could mean losing his control of the Senate. If Biden wins, Democrats need a net gain of only three seats to take control of the Senate. Polls indicate that several Republican senators, including Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right MORE (Maine), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyTrump nominee's long road to Fed may be dead end McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol McSally's final floor speech: 'I gave it my all, and I left it all on the field' MORE (Ariz.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisNorth Carolina — still purple but up for grabs Team Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection MORE (N.C.), Cory GardnerCory GardnerHillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay 3 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities Democrats vent to Schumer over Senate majority failure MORE (Colo.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesRick Scott tests positive for coronavirus Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee | Forest Service finalizes rule weakening environmental review of its projects | Biden to enlist Agriculture, Transportation agencies in climate fight MORE (Mont.) and both incumbents in Georgia are facing serious threats to their re-election. 

With the leader of their party at a low ebb, Republicans are starting to jump off the sinking ship. Last week corporate power player and former Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina endorsed Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden. Also last week, dozens of national security experts who served Republican presidents also expressed their support for Biden. 

A group of Republican activists and strategists under the banner of the Lincoln Project continue to batter the president with blistering television ads

Chaos will always rock the political establishment. For Democrats, this means a shift in power away from the pragmatic wing of the party to the progressive wing. The upheaval will be even worse for the GOP establishment because it means a shift out of power completely. That’s the price Republicans will pay for their blind loyalty to Donald Trump.

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Dateline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.