"On balance the Republican “establishment” has done fairly well this primary season. Its favored candidate in the Nebraska Senate race lost, and of course Eric Cantor went down to defeat, but Thad Cochran, Lindsey Graham, and Mitch McConnell all hung on. So, all is right in the world, right?
It is important to differentiate the candidates challenging the establishment from the voters backing those challengers. The candidates are either amateurs with no political background or upstarts who refuse to wait their place in line. They often have fewer funds, employ less experienced consultants, and lack the personal assets necessary to campaign effectively. Occasionally, a virtuoso rock star like Marco Rubio emerges, but the typical insurgent is lucky just to know how to hold the guitar.
And yet they have been giving the establishment fits and starts. Cantor lost. Cochran almost lost. McConnell hung on, but had to hustle. And Graham finished with less than 60 percent of the vote despite having worked every angle he could for years.
Establishment politicos often act superciliously toward these challengers, but in so doing they are missing a profound point: The Republican electorate is exceedingly angry and frustrated with their leadership. The fact that these second- or third-raters can give established leaders such a scare is proof positive. The party’s leadership can snicker at these challengers all it wants, but it had better understand that its own voters are so fed up with them that they are using these deeply flawed candidates to send them a message.