Todd Young is actually, at least on paper, one of the best so-called “establishment Republican” candidates. He has a genuinely impressive background—military, academic and professional. I think he could potentially be a very effective senator.
That having been said, he’s clearly the “establishment” pick in the Indiana GOP Senate primary taking place today, having conspicuously declined to buck GOP leadership as a house member and benefiting from the direct support of PACs aligned with Mitch McConnell. And he is cruising in his primary fight vs. Marlin Stutzman, the more conservative grassroots candidate who has challenged the party establishment. And this is all at a time that Trump is romping in Indiana.
That indicates to me that the success of Trump’s candidacy is not the sign of a more populist orientation in the GOP (which I would generally welcome). It’s just a sign that the Trump cult is just that—a cult of personality, not an indicator of a broader change in voting orientation. In state after state where we’ve seen establishment politicians elected to or returned to office, we’ve also seen Trump cruise to victory. The same voters who are electing Donald Trump with one vote are, with their next vote, electing GOP establishment candidates on the same ballot who would likely fight most of the changes Trump would like to enact. I’ll let the reader decide what that says about the likelihood that Trump supporters will see their long-term goals achieved.