The Republican Base Operates In Another World

Filed in National by on October 19, 2009

James Carville’s political polling organization, Democracy Corps, released a very interesting report last week (warning: PDF). They surveyed the base of the Republican party and found that they had a different understanding of the world than the rest of the U.S. It’s a much more paranoid view.

The self-identifying conservative Republicans who make up the base of the Republican Party stand a world apart from the rest of America, according to focus groups conducted by Democracy
Corps. These base Republican voters dislike Barack Obama to be sure – which is not very surprising as base Democrats had few positive things to say about George Bush – but these voters identify themselves as part of a ‘mocked’ minority with a set of shared beliefs and knowledge, and commitment to oppose Obama that sets them apart from the majority in the country. They believe Obama is ruthlessly advancing a ‘secret agenda’ to bankrupt the United States and dramatically expand government control to an extent nothing short of socialism. While these voters are disdainful of a Republican Party they view to have failed in its mission, they overwhelmingly view a successful Obama presidency as the destruction of this country’s founding principles and are committed to seeing the president fail.

It sounds very Glenn Beckian. Gee, do you wonder where they’re getting these ideas? The surveys say this is not related to racism. However, do these Republicans ever ask themselves why they are so panicked and why now? Democracy Corps also looked at other groups of voters – conservative leaning but not partisan Republicans.

The Republican base voters are not part of the continuum leading to the center of the electorate: they truly stand apart. For additional perspective, Democracy Corps conducted a parallel set of groups in suburban Cleveland. These groups, comprised of older, white, non-college independents and weak partisans, represent some of the most conservative swing voters in the
electorate, and they demonstrated a wholly different worldview from Republican base voters by dismissing the fear of “socialism” and evaluating Obama in very different terms. Most importantly,
regardless of their personal feelings toward Obama or how they voted in 2008, they very much want to see him succeed because they believe the country desperately needs the change he promised in his campaign. Though we kept discussion points constant between the two sets of groups, on virtually every point of discussion around President Obama and the major issues facing our country, these two audiences simply saw the world in fundamentally different ways – underscoring the extreme disconnect of the conservative Republican base voters.

This is the base Republicans must appeal to, while still trying to appeal to the electorate as a whole. You can see how this will be a big problem for them since these groups are operating on completely different sets of facts. I know the coventional wisdom right now is that the Republicans will gain in 2010 but I’m a bit skeptical that Republicans are going to be able to walk this tightrope in swing districts, although I think Democrats from deep red areas (like Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas a hotbed of birtherism) may be in deep trouble.

I’m sure you’re also not surprised that the Republican base only trusts Fox News and no other news outlets. They absolutely love Glenn Beck:

Glenn Beck, however, received nothing short of adulation from these voters, particularly the women. They believe he embodies the best of conservative media – determination to unearth the stories the liberal media tries to bury, love of country, and refusal to be intimidated, even as the liberal media unleashes waves of attacks on his past and his credibility.

I think he’s a patriot… I think he’s passionate. You know they make jokes about him crying and all this kind of stuff; I think the man, I think the man feels it. I think he’s genuine.

I think the guy’s brilliant. No one goes after him because he does his homework. He checks, double checks, triple checks and he says he refuses to put it on the air unless it’s been checked a hundred different times. So when you can’t get at him, you start calling
him names and start digging into his past.

He is a firecracker… He tells the truth… He is also a person who says what he thinks… He gets emotional, but if you can past the emotion and follow his logic, he makes some really good points.

I get angry when I watch his show because I get angry that no one is listening to this and how come regular media is not airing it.

Two aspects of the discussion on Beck among conservative Republicans were particularly noteworthy. One was a common fear among the women for his personal safety, a belief that his willingness to stand up to powerful liberal interests was putting his life, as well as the lives of those working with him, in danger. Of course, his willingness to face this danger head on only adds to his legend.

I fear for his life… He is heavily secured believe me.

Glenn Beck is the type of man that he has put his personal finances on the line to protect everyone of his employees. They all have… bodyguards, security, high security. He said I don’t care if my business goes down or I am put out of business, this is my family, my family and, he has twelve employees in his business. That is the kind of man he is.

The other is the commitment these voters have made to Beck and his show. More than half of the respondents in our conservative Republicans groups indicated that they try to watch or listen to Beck on a daily basis, with some going to great lengths to ensure they (and their families) do not miss a thing.

What will happen when Beck has his inevitable flame-out? And the only Republican leader that excited them? Sarah Palin. I know it’s a long time until 2012, but could Sarah Palin actually be the Republican candidate?

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  1. Presidential Derangement Syndrome : Delaware Liberal | October 20, 2009
  1. liberalgeek says:

    And just this morning, Mika on Morning Joe said that Beck and Rush are just entertainers. She asked why we are giving them the attention of calling them out on their cries of “Obama is a racist” or socialism and fascism assertions. “They just throw these things out there to get ratings” she said.

    Because there is a group of people out there (maybe 21%) that are nuts for these guys and believe that they are speaking truth to power. Can you call out lies without naming names?

  2. liberalgeek says:

    Oh, and it should be noted that David Anderson has said that he TIVO’s Beck every day and considers him a political prophet. I suspect that he meant “profit”.

  3. nemski says:

    This reminded me of Jonathan Haidt’s TED talk on the difference between liberals and conservatives.

  4. lg,

    That’s why I thinks it’s really important that the Obama administration is taking on Fox. The traditional news media has not done its job and is treating Fox like they are a legitimate news channel. If Fox were legitimate, it would take its obligation to inform people seriously. Instead it pushed paranoid conspiracy theories because it gets ratings and it gets money.

  5. RICO says:

    Headline: Carville says Republicans are parnoid kooks! local moonbats agree. film at 11.

  6. The paranoid kooks spoke for themselves. Of course, RICO won’t bother to read the report because he/she is one of the paranoid kooks.

  7. Geezer says:

    UI: I think you misunderstand the implications here. Fox airs this stuff because there’s a huge potential audience that already feels this way. The mindset preceded the network; Fox, Beck, Rush etc. are simply cashing in on the situation, not creating it.

  8. cassandra m says:

    It is not so much paranoid as it is authoritarian — there are voices they will unequivocally and unquestioningly trust to lead them and if those people are telling them that Obama is a secret Kenyan, that that is the truth of the day. Instead of challenging the people who lie to them and make them look like kooks, they run all over repeating the stupid. Starting the victim cycle all over.

    The thing that kills me is how willing they are to be so misled; how willing they are to look like complete fools. And that the so-called liberal media will take much of what they have to say at face value. Just because these people have convinced themselves that Obama is pulling the plug on Grandma is not a good enough reason to report that at face value.

  9. V says:

    Mika was driving me crazy this morning. They have this guy on talking about all the republicans crying “Nazi” and she’s like “what about the left?” over and over. People on the left who called Bush a nazi were our “wingnuts” (even though they were right to protest the war, but that’s not really the point at hand)and one guy that Joe Scarborough kept going on about. People are the right are major republican voices (talk radio, fox) and congressmen/women. There is a difference Mika. I just think the whole thing is stupid. Godwin’s law anyone?

  10. What V says is the big difference Geezer. Paranoid conspiracy theorists have always existed but they’ve never been enabled so much as to have their own TV network. The paranoid base now can completely avoid getting information which contradicts their world view. I think that’s a problem.

  11. anon says:

    If Sarah Palin is the republican nominee, and it is not out of the question with such a weak field of potential contenders and the wingnut faction of the party (pretty much all that’s left of the GOP) motivated to vote, Obama’s reelection will have a similar result as Ronald Reagan’s 1984 win over Walter Mondale. The paranoia over Obama is akin to the paranoia over the H1N1 vaccine, just different scales. It’s hard to fathom what’s in their very small brains.

  12. a.price says:

    here here v and iu. It’s a vicious cycle now. They morons existed before Beck and Rush et all, but now they have a major “news organization” telling them every idiotic thing they believe is not only rational, but the truth.
    The Fox news employees dont give a flying fuck about this country. Karl Rove is a “contributor” for god’s sake. I think he is their strategist. devide the country, and try and side with the bigger half….. or create an issue you know you can be in the majority…

    like “Who loves America? Those people don’t..look at them, they aren’t of the white culture or christian, or conservative or anything… in fact, they HATE your America, which we all know is the America god intended when he sent Jesus over in the submarine … you aren’t THEM are you? No? Well neither is Fox News.. we are everything those evil sub humans aren’t… and if you watch us, and listen to us, and buy from our corporate sponsors, you can prove you love America too!”

    The base they cater to eventually wants more venom… if the president and “ameri-haters” are as bad as Fox says they are, the horde begins to want blood…. they Becks and Hannitys need to get more severe, facts be damned…. because if they EVER told the truth, their numbers would plummet….

    in talking to friends all over the land who dont have a digital cable box yet i am finding out that various stations are being canceled from a basic cable package unless you have the digital box.
    one of the stations axed? MSNBC… but Fox is still available. as far as i know this is only comcast. I dont know if the decision was theirs or NBC’s. it is just curious that people who decide not to give comcast more money are forced to watch that trash… if they are ignorant of the issues, Fox just nabbed a whore mess of kool-aid drinkers.

  13. Progressive Mom says:

    “The mindset preceded the network; Fox, Beck, Rush etc. are simply cashing in on the situation, not creating it.”

    The mindset did precede the network. But the network does more than cash in; it validates the mindset and makes it appear to be a majority voice. It makes the craziness appear larger, more powerful and more mainstream.

    Honestly, having lived through the decade of riots and assassinations, I never thought this nation would discuss open carry of firearms to a political rally as a legitimate part of political speech. That’s what Fox et al have given us.

    I’ve sometimes wondered how different a nation we would be if we had an echo-chamber for fairplay and do unto others, rather than an echo-chamber for hatred and “I’ve got mine so FU.”

  14. cassandra m says:

    FOX and the talk radio fools certainly make these folks feel that they are not alone and provides them with the illusion that they aren’t exactly the fringe. And when their pols pretty much play to the wingnuttery they are completely validated. What is completely dishonest about the Mikas and all of the others working overtime to have some false equivalence is that the folks calling GWB “Nazi” were not welcome in the mainstream of the Dem party’s business. Even the MoveOn ad submitted by the person entering the contest was yanked pretty quickly after people complained. You don’t hear that point from the wingnuts, because it does not suit the narrative, but liberals tend to be pretty good at drawing a big, bright line around those assigned to Crazytown. For repubs, the crazies are running the asylum.

  15. anon2 says:

    While Beck and Limbaugh, Hannity and O’Reilly and Fox news cash in on their far right views that appeal to a very small niche audience, the rest of the world has tuned them out. The simple truth is, these white middle aged males have destroyed the republican party with their bigoted, racist, hateful, sexist, homophobic, anti-everything, conspiracy viewpoints. The last thing anyone should want to do is take these clowns off the air. It’s the best thing that ever happened to the democratic party.

  16. A quote I agree with from Mr. Greenspan:
    “If they’re too big to fail, they’re too big,” Greenspan said today. “In 1911 we broke up Standard Oil — so what happened? The individual parts became more valuable than the whole. Maybe that’s what we need to do.”

    We are both Republicans.

    Mike Protack

  17. I pretty much agree with every word they say. We are losing our country to a socialist progressive cabal which can not be allowed to succeed.

    As for your race contention, did you not notice the same problems with Hillary Clinton and Al Gore was proclaimed by the same group of people. Bill Clinton was despised in part because of his dedication to undermining American sovereignty. UN treaties, biodiversity, GATT, NAFTA, and Kyoto were taking us down the road to globalism. Now we have an administration determined to socialize the economy, undermine our founding culture by establishing a post Christian nation, and put us under global regimes by undermining the dollar and surrendering our nukes to the UN in some world without nuclear weapons scheme. It is a nightmare like we have never seen.

  18. Mike, one thing we can do before we start breaking everyone up is to stop encouraging mergers for the sake of mergers. We allowed these huge corporations to manipulate the tax code to encourage take overs and mergers instead of investing in research and American manufacturing. Change the tax code and we can restore America. That is why I favor the Fair Tax.

  19. Scott P says:

    This is the part that absolutely baffles me. How two groups of people in the same country and nominally the same culture can be living in two very different realities. This is why rational debate is no longer possible between the two sides. As I think it was Daniel Patrick Moynihan that said, “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.” The Right fringe and the rest of America aren’t arguing apples and oranges, it’s more like apples and roller skates.

    However, they’re now stuck in a feedback loop. As long as they stay separate from the reality-based community, they stay removed from decision-making. The fact that they’re being left out just makes them more crazy and paranoia-prone. As they drift farther asea in their FOX-assisted echo chamber, they get less and less relevant to real policy work. Which just makes them feel more persecuted and reinforces their beliefs. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

  20. liberalgeek says:

    Now we have an administration determined to socialize the economy, undermine our founding culture by establishing a post Christian nation, and put us under global regimes by undermining the dollar and surrendering our nukes to the UN in some world without nuclear weapons scheme.

    My God, how do you sleep at night? I’m not even sure what the hell “a post Christian nation” means with a secular government that has been in place for 200+ years. Is your assertion that Obama is not a Christian or that he is determined to lower church attendance by going to church with his family?

    You really have a screwy view of this country, David.

  21. Scott P says:

    I just want to throw out there that from my years of unbelievably unscientific observation, anytime anyone uses the word “cabal”, there is approximately a 98.3% probability that they are suffering from paranoid delusions. It’s just not a word normal people use, is all I’m sayin.

  22. Scott P says:

    “Post Christian”. Like Duke after Laettner graduated?

  23. liberalgeek says:

    Good point. And as for devaluation of the Dollar, David. I would point out to you that the dollar was devalued (relative to the Euro) from 1.08 to 0.77 during the Bush term (it actually went as low as 0.63) with an almost constant downward trend for the entire administration. That is about a 29% drop (almost 40% at it’s lowest).

    So I wonder why it is now suddenly such a big deal for you guys now that we are at about 0.68 in a huge recession?

  24. Would you like a link to my posts made during the Bush administration that said we were inflating commodities and that was destroying our economic prosperity? Play with my money and I won’t be happy no matter who you are even if you are a great leader and person like GWB.

  25. V says:

    *makes mental note to now use “cabal” whenever she can*

  26. delacrat says:

    “We are losing our country to a socialist progressive cabal ” -Republican David

    Lead by the “socialist” Henry Paulson, formerly of that “progressive” front group, Goldman-Sachs.

    Face it David, you’re a credulous idiot.

  27. Hmmm and DP favored the Paulson blank check? We did not. Unlike delacrat who favors everything done by the regime in Washington, we operate on a set of principles which is more important and unchanging regardless of what the leadership thinks. Even in your own pollster’s statement, he noticed a disenchantment with the Republican Party in Washington. That is why the top three contenders are Huckabee, Romney, and Palin.