Washington (CNN)CNN’s Dana Bash laid out the systematic years-long humbling of Democrats at Wednesday’s forum for candidates to lead the national party.

“Six states — only six states have Democratic governors in (Democratic majority) state legislatures. In the last eight years — more than 900 seats in state legislatures went from Democrat to Republican. And it’s mostly the legislatures that draw the congressional districts,” she said to Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minnesota liberal who is a frontrunner in the race.

That takeover of state-level politics by Republicans didn’t happen overnight. It’s been part of a methodical push that has allowed the GOP to outpunch its weight in Congress. Control of state houses helps lead to safer congressional districts in most states.

That’s why while more Americans identify as Democrats than as Republicans (both trail the growing number of independents), the party is at a nadir of power both in Washington and in the country. Meanwhile, the faces of the candidates vying to lead the Democratic National Committee are mostly unknown to Americans despite the fact that eight years ago their party had a filibuster proof Senate majority and control of the White House. Now the winner of this contest will be charged with helping bring the party back from the desert of controlling nothing at all in Washington.

One remedy, alluded to at points by each of the candidates, is the need to re-focus away from national politics.

“Donald Trump has gotten to be like a computer virus in the American political system,” said South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “He ties up our minds and our processing power with these equations that don’t even have any solutions until the system overheats and breaks down.”

He added later that, “Our opponents on the Republican side have patiently and cleverly built majorities at the state house level, Congress… It’s not just about…