Liberal Uniqueness, Conservative False Consensus, And Public Impressions Of The Tea Party and Political Parties

I tend to be skeptical of scientific and psychological studies which attempt to describe conservatives or liberals as a group, but if this study is valid maybe that is because I suffer from the common liberal misconception of false uniqueness. A study in Psychological Science asked participants to answer whether they agreed with both political and non-political questions, and to indicate whether they thought people with similar political views would agree.

Liberals showed what the researchers call “truly false uniqueness,” perceiving their beliefs as more divergent from the beliefs of other liberals than they actually were. Moderates and conservatives, on the other hand, showed evidence of “truly false consensus,” perceiving their beliefs to be more similar to those of other members of their political group than they actually were.

Data from a second study suggest that the relationship is driven by participants’ desire to feel unique: Liberals reported a stronger desire for uniqueness than did moderates or conservatives.

Surprisingly, these trends even emerged among nonpolitical judgments, such as preference for coffee: Liberals believed their preferences were more different from those of other liberals than they actually were, while conservatives believed their preferences were more similar to those of other conservatives than they actually were.

In a somewhat related story, The Fix discussed finding from a recent poll indicating that, even if there the above study is true that there is not a  consensus among conservatives, many people see the Tea Party as essentially being the same as the Republican Party.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows an increasing number of Americans think the tea party has too much influence in today’s GOP. While 23 percent said the tea party had too much influence in a March 2010 WaPo-ABC poll, and 35 percent said the same in a Pew poll early last month, 43 percent now say it has too much sway.

Among pivotal moderate voters, well more than half (56 percent) say the tea party has too much influence on the GOP, while just 22 percent say it has about the right amount.

Perhaps more illustrative: views of the Republican Party’s ideological leaning are essentially the same as the tea party.

Forty percent say the tea party is too conservative — about the same number as say the Republican Party is too conservative (43 percent). While 36 percent of Americans say the views of the GOP are “about right,” 35 percent say the same of the tea party.

Views of the GOP and the tea party are virtually the same across all demographics. Fifty-five percent of moderates say the GOP is too conservative, versus 52 percent who say the same of the tea party.

In other words, if the tea party has moved the GOP to the right — and it has — it has done so to such an extent they are now viewed as ideologically very similar.

While the Tea Party essentially represents the extreme right wing base of the Republican Party, and not all Republicans, finding such a view in the poll is understandable considering that the far right wing is now driving the Republican agenda.

The study also found comparable numbers who found the Democratic Party to be too liberal. It would be interesting if the poll further broke down attitudes by issue. Polls have frequently found that people who do not identify with either liberals or Democrats frequently agree with the liberal position regardless of their self-identified ideology.

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Quote of The Day: Bill Maher on Nuthouse Wing Of The Republican Party

“Is it possible that America may be coming to its senses a little? That may be the message from these elections we had on Tuesday because Chris Christie, the big winner, is from the not-nuthouse wing of the party – you know, he’s an indoor Republican. And the two bats**t Tea Party people lost pretty bad. In Virginia, their candidate for governor, Ken Cuccinelli went down, which is ironic because he was trying to make oral sex illegal. I’m not making that up. He wanted to make abortion impossible, ban gay marriage, and reinstate the sodomy laws against oral and anal sex. Why? Because it’s a Republicans’ job to get government out of our lives.” –Bill Maher

Bonus Quotes:

“Outlaw sodomy? Does this guy realize that for most people under 30, sodomy is the main form of birth control. What a platform. He wanted to outlaw blow jobs, and he lost single women in the state by 43 points. But listen to this, he won married women by 9. That’s all I need to know about marriage.” –Bill Maher

“In Alabama, the Tea Party candidate named Dean Young, who wanted to impeach Obama and compared gay people to animals, he lost to a potty-trained Republican. Boy, that is something for your resume – Dean Young: too ignorant for Alabama.” –Bill Maher

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Republicans Who Gag Over Interracial Marriages And Dream Of The Good Times Are Racist

Richard Cohen explained why Chris Christie will have a hard time winning the Republican presidential nomination:

From a Web site called the Iowa Republican, I learned that part of the problem with John McCain and Mitt Romney, seriatim losers to Barack Obama, “is they were deemed too moderate by many Iowa conservatives.” The sort of candidates Iowa Republicans prefer have already been in the state. The blog cited Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah (considered to the right of Cruz, if such a thing is possible), Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the party’s recent vice presidential candidate and its resident abacus, and the inevitable Sarah Palin, the Alaska quitter who, I think, actually now lives in Arizona. If this is the future of the GOP, then it’s in the past.

None of these candidates bears the slightest resemblance to Christie. And the more literate of them — that’s not you, Palin — must have chortled over post-election newspaper columns extolling Christie as precisely the sort of candidate the GOP ought to run in 2016. This is the dream of moderate Republicans, but not many of them vote in the Iowa caucuses or the South Carolina primary, two of the early nominating contests.

I agree so far with Cohen, except that the major problem Chris Christie faces is not that he isn’t conservative but that he has been willing to compromise in the manner which has been necessary to succeed in New Jersey. To Republican primary voters, compromise is evil, and to compromise on conservative principles is as bad as not believing in conservative principles.

Cohen gave this description of how the Tea Party sees the world:

Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.

As with the Dixiecrats, the fight is not over a particular program — although Obamacare comes close — but about a tectonic shift of attitudes. I thank Dennis J. Goldford, professor of politics and international relations at Drake University in Des Moines, for leading me to a live performance on YouTube of Merle Haggard singing “Are the Good Times Really Over.” This chestnut, a lament for a lost America, has been viewed well more than 2 million times. It could be the tea party’s anthem.

I might agree if not for the statement that today’s GOP is not racist. If they gag when they see a white man married to a black woman and if they gag over biracial children,  they are racist. When they dream of the Good Times, they are dreaming of a time when minorities were kept in their place. Their views on immigration are based upon the racist desire to keep out people of other races. Their economic policies are based upon scaring low-information white males into thinking that if they don’t vote Republican, minorities will take what they are entitled to. The Southern strategy of Lee Atwater remains in place:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Beyond this rather major error, Cohen is right that the Tea Party cannot handle the modern world, and will not support a conservative such as Chris Christie who, unlike them, is not totally out of touch with reality.

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Polls Show Saner Republicans Unhappy With Nuttier Tea Party Wing

Polls are showing that an increasing number of Republicans  now dislike the Republican Party, along with once again showing that the Tea Party represents the lunatic fringe. First from Washington Wire:

October was clearly a cruel month for both President Barack Obama and the Republicans, both of whom saw their images slump to new lows in Wall Street Journal/NBC News polling.

But hidden within the data is a more disturbing reality for the Republican Party. Put simply, Democrats are largely content with their own party, while distaste among Republicans for the GOP has grown exponentially this year.

First Read believes it is the non-Tea Party Republicans who are breaking away from the Republican Party:

Non-Tea Party Republicans are breaking from the GOP: Our NBC/WSJ poll has shown that fewer respondents are identifying as Republicans. So who is leaving? Well, one set of numbers gives us a big clue. In a three-way generic congressional contest, the Democrat gets 35%, the third-party/independent candidate gets 30%, and the Republican candidate gets 28%. You might think that it’s Tea Party Republicans who are siding with the third-party/independent candidate. But you’d be wrong. The third-party support is coming mostly from self-identified independents and NON-Tea Party Republicans. In other words, it’s the NON-Tea Party folks who are splitting from the GOP. Here’s the data:

Among Democrats: 73% back the Dem candidate, 2% support a GOP candidate, 19% third party/indie
Among Republicans: 65% GOP candidate, 2% Dem, 28% third party/indie
Among Tea Party Republicans: 72% GOP candidate, 0% Dem, 25% third party/indie
Among NON-Tea Party Republicans: 58% GOP candidate, 5% Dem, 32% third party/indie
Independents: 13% GOP candidate, 12% Dem, 61% third party/indie

And if you dig even deeper into the demographics, you see that a lot of groups that usually lean GOP (but ONLY lean) are the ones most intrigued about bolting to a third-party candidate. A year ago, many Republican Party leaders were concerned about Tea Partiers leaving the party (it’s something Erick Erickson has threatened from time to time). But according to this polling data, the threat is from SOFTER more moderate Republicans.

A Pew Research Center survey shows just one example of how the Tea Party represents the bat-shit crazy wing of the GOP:

Two-thirds of Americans (67%) say there is solid evidence that the earth has been getting warmer over the last few decades, a figure that has changed little in the past few years. While partisan differences over climate change remain substantial, Republicans face greater internal divisions over this issue than do Democrats.

Just 25% of Tea Party Republicans say there is solid evidence of global warming, compared with 61%of non-Tea Party Republicans.

Greg Sargent added further information on the breakdown:

Ron Brownstein has suggested that climate change — along with social issues — is one of a handful of priorities that is increasingly important to the very voter groups that could well give the Democratic Party a demographic edge over the GOP into the future. That “coalition of the ascendant” includes young voters, minorities, and college educated whites, especially women. I asked Pew for the percentages among these groups who believe there is solid evidence of global warming, and the theory is borne out:

* 73% of those aged 18-29 believe it’s happening.

* 76 percent of nonwhites believe it’s happening.

* 67 percent of college educated whites believe its happening.

The correspondence between social conservatives, who wish to use government to impose their religious views on others, and those who deny science is no surprise. I suspect that it is the views on social issues held by the Republican base which will do more to marginalize the Republican Party as their views become to be seen as increasingly repugnant by growing numbers of people.

Sargent also points out that Republicans not only disagree with the scientific consensus, but many are unaware of what the scientific consensus is: “Most Democrats say there is scientific consensus on global warming (71%). Only 41% of Republicans say that scientists generally agree, while 48% say they do not.” Again, this ignorance on the part of anti-science Republicans comes as no surprise.

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Republican Pollster Says Republicans Need To Stop Pandering To Racism–Unlikely To Happen In The GOP

The Republican political strategy, whether it is the southern strategy or the current appeals to the fears of low-information white voters, is to pander to fears of people of other races. The New York Times has an article on race in politics which contains one significant passage. A Republican pollster for both Presidents Bush acknowledged how Republicans pander to race (emphasis mine):

Fred Steeper, a Republican pollster who advised both Presidents Bush, worries about renewed attention to racial divisions for two reasons.

One is that it could taint what he calls the Republican Party’s “legitimate argument” in favor of self-reliance and smaller government. The other is the difficulty of winning national elections if the Republicans’ hard-line on immigration continues to alienate Hispanics.

“Racism may be a part of it,” especially among working-class whites, Mr. Steeper said of the immigration stance. “The Republican Party needs to stop pandering to that.”

He added, “The Republican Party needs to throw in the towel on the immigration issue.”

Even if they were to give up on immigration, racism would still dominate Republican views. How many Republicans, with an exaggerated view of the dollar amounts, are easily upset by the prospect of minorities receiving welfare or foreigners receiving foreign aide?  With Republicans losing the support of virtually all groups other than low-information, easily scared white males, there is no Republican Party without such appeals to the widespread racism and xenophobia in their ranks.

The Nation recently reminded us of how the Southern strategy works in quoting Lee Atwater:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

As if nobody outside of the right wing doesn’t realize that the demands of the Teabaggers are largely about race.

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Rand (Mr. Misinformation) Paul Spreads Scare Stories Against Scientific Advancements and Eugenics

Faux libertarian Rand Paul just can’t help it. Most of his ideas are so off the wall that he has no choice but to make things up to support them. Even when he takes the right position on civil liberties issues, if you listen to him long enough (such as during his filibuster on drones) it becomes apparent that this is a guy who just has no idea what he is talking about. On top of that, despite claims of being a libertarian, Paul supports increased government intrusion into the private lives of individuals when it comes to reproductive rights. He is supporting this with scare stories about eugenics unless conservatives stand up against abortion and stay away from scientific advancements:

Tea party hero Rand Paul warned scientific advancements could lead to eugenics during a Monday visit at Liberty University, looking to boost the political fortunes of fellow Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s bid for governor.

During a visit to the Christian school founded by Jerry Falwell, Paul looked to energize conservative supporters by warning that genetic tests could identify those who are predisposed to be short, overweight or less intelligent so that they could be eliminated. With one week remaining before Election Day, Cuccinelli is hoping the joint appearance with the U.S. senator from Kentucky will encourage the far-right flank of his party to abandon third-party libertarian spoiler Robert Sarvis.

“In your lifetime, much of your potential – or lack thereof – can be known simply by swabbing the inside of your cheek,” Paul said to a packed sporting arena on Liberty’s campus. “Are we prepared to select out the imperfect among us?”

Some states ran eugenics programs that sterilized those considered defective in the 1900s, though all were abandoned by the 1970s after scientists discredited the idea.

Just the fact that he was speaking at the erroneously named Liberty University was a dead giveaway that he would be spouting nonsense such as this.  Regardless of where he is, this is his typical tactic. As Paul has stated, misinformation works, and he continues to practice this philosophy

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Republicans and Tea Party May Face Long Term Political Consequences For Endangering Economy

It appears that the Republicans are backing down on their brinkmanship with John Boehner now prepared to allow the full House to vote on a compromise bill despite lack of Republican support. Of course the shutdown and fears of default, which have harmed the economy,  could have been prevented if Boehner had allowed this previously. The Republicans will likely play a political price for showing how much they are willing to compromise the interests of the nation to give in to ideological extremists. Support for Republicans has fallen dramatically. The Tea Party has been hurt the most as an increasing number of American voters have come to realize that, despite their name, the Tea Party is a dangerous, extremist group which opposes the ideals of the Founding Fathers, opposes our Constitutional form of self-government, and is pushing the Republican Party in a direction which would bring financial ruin to the United States. A Pew Research Center survey found:

The Tea Party is less popular than ever, with even many Republicans now viewing the movement negatively. Overall, nearly half of the public (49%) has an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party, while 30% have a favorable opinion.

The balance of opinion toward the Tea Party has turned more negative since June, when 37% viewed it favorably and 45% had an unfavorable opinion. And the Tea Party’s image is much more negative today than it was three years ago, shortly after it emerged as a conservative protest movement against Barack Obama’s policies on health care and the economy…

By a 50% to 31% margin, whites now have a more unfavorable than favorable view of the Tea Party; four months ago whites were about evenly divided in their opinions. Over the same period of time there has been little change in opinions of the Tea Party among blacks or Hispanics, who already held a negative opinion of the Tea Party in June.

And although favorable ratings of the Tea Party have declined across most age groups, there has been a 12-point drop among 18-29 year olds, just 25% of whom now have a positive view of the Tea Party movement…

In the current debate over the debt limit, nearly seven-in-ten (69%) of Tea Party Republicans think that the country can go past the deadline for raising the debt limit without major economic problems, and fully 52% say the debt limit does not need to be raised at all.

The shutdown has also hurt the Republican’s chances to win the Senate per findings of a Public Policy Polling survey.

As people have turned against the Republicans and the Tea Party, some are also rejecting the right wing’s opposition to Obamacare. A Democracy Corps poll found that “Just 38 percent now clearly oppose the Affordable Care Act. While likely voters divideevenly on the plan, 8 percent oppose the law because it does not go far enough. As a result, just 38 percent oppose the law because it is big government.” Opponents of the Affordable Care Act have generally exaggerated their numbers by including both those who oppose  government action and those who oppose the ACA because it doesn’t go far enough. In addition, surveys about the actual components of the law have done much better than polling on the name due to the considerable amount of misinformation being spread.

A year is a long time in politics and many people are likely to forget recent events when voting next year. These events still may increase Democratic chances at taking the  House next year. Some voters will remember, and it is likely many will become more aware of other extremist moves by the Republican Party which under other circumstances might be ignored. The shutdown has assisted the Democrats in recruiting House candidates, making them more competitive in swing districts.  Greg Sargent wrote:

Though the shutdown mess has given Dems a sizable lead in the generic House ballot matchup, that will almost certainly fade. But it could have a lasting impact if it enables Dems to recruit good candidates right now, which could matter to the outcome.

In an interview, DCCC chair Steve Israel told me a number of new recruits would be announced in coming days, thanks to GOP damage sustained in the crisis.

“Conservatively, you will see another three — it could be as many as five,” Israel told me. “In a number of districts we had top-tier, all-star potential candidates who several months ago didn’t see a path to victory. They reopened the doors. These are competitive districts. They tend to be moderate and have large concentrations of independent voters. Those voters are now seeing the Tea Party implement their agenda.”

Three to five new top recruits would not be insignificant, since Dems need to flip 17 seats to take back the House, but Dave Wasserman, who tracks House races for the non-partisan Cook Political Report, estimates that Dems are well short of the number of recruits they need. He says that given how few seats are truly competitive, Dems need between 35 and 40 high-quality recruits to have any shot at putting the House in play, and estimates that they only have two dozen serious recruits at present.

Israel says Dems will meet that goal. “I think we’ll get it into the range of 40,” he said. “I don’t accept that we’re at 20-25 top recruits. I would put it right now in the mid-30s.”

Carl Bernstein had some harsh words for the Republicans:

Journalist and author Carl Bernstein said Wednesday that Republican Party leadership is “cancerous” and has put the United States at risk by letting the tea party lead the GOP.

“The Republican Party today has become a rabid organization from the top down. The leadership is cancerous,” the former Washington Post reporter said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday.

Bernstein called the current situation a “terrible moment in our history” and said only segregation politics offers a comparison.

“You have to go back to the party, the Democratic Party of segregation to find this kind of scorched-earth politics putting the national interests nowhere and putting ideology and ideology above all else,” Bernstein said. “The full faith and credit of the United States, our reputation abroad, our stability, our national security has been endangered by [Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell, by [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor, who have embraced and cowardly appeased these forces who are know-nothings.”

Incidentally, most people are aware that the old southern Democrats who supported segregation ultimately moved to the Republican Party after passage of the Civil Rights Act 1964. It is worth a quick mention as I actually received a comment from a Republican  supporting Republicans over Democrats because of the support for segregation by Democrats. That clearly has no meaning in terms of choosing current candidates.

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Are We Seeing The End Of The Republican Party?

The polling just continues to get worse for the Republicans, who clearly miscalculated on creating yet another crisis. From NBCNews/The Wall Street Journal:

The Republican Party has been badly damaged in the ongoing government shutdown and debt limit standoff, with a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finding that a majority of Americans blame the GOP for the shutdown, and with the party’s popularity declining to its lowest level.

By a 22-point margin (53 percent to 31 percent), the public blames the Republican Party more for the shutdown than President Barack Obama – a wider margin of blame for the GOP than the party received during the poll during the last shutdown in 1995-96.

Just 24 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion about the GOP, and only 21 percent have a favorable view of the Tea Party, which are both at all-time lows in the history of poll.

It gets worse in this poll:

A new Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (D) survey that that by a 16-point margin, 43% to 27%, voters blame the Republican in Congress, rather than President Obama and the Democrats, for the government shutdown.

On the generic congressional ballot, Democrats now lead by double digits, 46% to 36%.

I am somewhat skeptical about this, or at least that it will hold until next year’s elections, but this is certainly a big enough margin to change control of the House.  John Judis speculates that we may be in the last days of the Republican Party. Maybe they can recover by moving back from the extreme right, but without the extremists what is left of party?

Republicans in Washington could repudiate their radical base and shun the groups that appeal to it. That is roughly what people like Feehery are suggesting. But the question, then, is what would be the Republican base? How would Republicans win elections? Are there enough rational Republicans to make up for the loss of the radical ones?

We are just beginning to see the effect of the shutdown on the economy. Contrary to conservative claims of self-reliance, the red states get the most federal aide. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the red states are getting hurt more by the shutdown.

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Some Honesty From A Republican

David Frum has often questioned Republican behavior since leaving the Bush White House. I imagine that is due to a combination of factors including the Republicans moving much further towards the extreme right, and as those not working for someone in office have more freedom to tell the truth. His list of Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Political Parties provides some useful insight into how the saner Republicans think. In some cases he is wrong, such as in not believing we can afford to do what the rest of the world with modern economies can in providing affordable health care for all. At least he concedes that Obamacare is not the calamity they claim:

If the United States has remained a constitutional republic despite a government guarantee of health care for people over 65, it will remain a constitutional republic with a government guarantee of health care for people under 65. Obamacare will cost money the country doesn’t have, and that poses a serious fiscal problem. But it’s not as serious a fiscal problem as is posed by the existing programs, Medicare and Medicaid, which cover the people it costs most to cover. It’s not a problem so serious as to justify panic.

Yet panic has gripped the Republican rank-and-file since 2009—and instead of allaying panic, Republican leaders have aggravated and exploited it, to the point where the leaders are compelled to behave in ways they know to be irrational. In his speech to the “Bull Moose” convention of 1912, Teddy Roosevelt declared, “We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord!” It’s a great line, but it’s not a mindset that leads to successful legislative outcomes.

He gave arguments other than racism for Republican hatred of Obama:

Barack Obama was never likely to be popular with the Republican base. It’s not just that he’s black. He’s the first president in 76 years with a foreign parent—and unlike Hulda Hoover, Barack Obama Sr. never even naturalized. While Obama is not the first president to hold two degrees from elite universities—Bill Clinton and George W. Bush did as well—his Ivy predecessors at least disguised their education with a down-home style of speech. Join this cultural inheritance to liberal politics, and of course you have a formula for conflict. But effective parties make conflict work for them. Hate leads to rage, and rage makes you stupid. Republicans have convinced themselves both that President Obama is a revolutionary radical hell-bent upon destroying America as we know it and that he’s so feckless and weak-willed that he’ll always yield to pressure. It’s that contradictory, angry assessment that has brought the GOP to a place where it must either abjectly surrender or force a national default. Calmer analysis would have achieved better results.

True, the know-nothings of the far right would oppose any educated president who acts like they are educated. They just can’t stand things like facts as they show that right wing policies make no sense. The right wing base also hates America for our freedoms, desiring to replace our liberal heritage with religious their religious beliefs. There are reasons besides being black that Republicans dislike Obama. This does change the fact that racism is endemic in the conservative movement and being black did lead to immediate and unreasonable opposition to Obama. If conservatives were willing to look at Obama’s actual beliefs, they might never agree with him on some social issues, but they would see that he is relatively conservative on many economic issues and is willing to compromise on quite a bit. Of course Obama may hold the view of  an Eisenhower Republican on many issues, but to the far right Eisenhower was suspected of being a Communist.

The other most important confession from Frum is on the role of the right wing noise machine:

The actor Hugh Grant once bitterly characterized his PR team as “the people I pay to lie to me.” Politicians do not always need to tell the truth, but they always need to hear it. Yet hearing the truth has become harder and harder for Republicans. It takes a very unusual spin artist to remember that what he or she is saying isn’t actually true. Non-politicians say what they believe. Politicians sooner or later arrive at the point where they believe what they say. They have become prisoners of their own artificial reality, with no easy access to the larger truths outside. This entombment in their own artificial reality was revealed to the entire TV-watching world in Karl Rove’s Fox News election night outburst against the Ohio 2012 ballot results. It was the same entombment that blinded Republicans to the most likely outcome of their no-compromise stance on Obamacare—and now again today to the most likely outcome of the government shutdown/debt ceiling fight they started.

The false narrative created by the far right is a dangerous threat to democracy due to the need for an informed electorate. It becomes even more dangerous when conservative politicians believe their own lies.

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Business Threatening To Finance Primary Challenges Against Congressmen Following Tea Party

The conventional wisdom has been that members of Congress are more likely to appeal to their base than attempt to move to the center due to most members of Congress being in safe districts. Chris Cillizza estimates that 38 percent of the House won recent elections by such large margins that they have no fear of losing in a general election. Many others have won by smaller margins but remain unlikely to lose. Dan Baltz described the increased polarization of Congressional districts and the impact on voting behavior, with members of Congress from more competitive districts also voting more like the rest of their party:

Today, there is almost no overlap between the voting behavior of the most conservative Democrats in the House and the most liberal Republicans. That’s in part because there are few ­moderate-to-conservative Democrats and ­moderate-to-liberal Republicans left in the chamber.

It also is a reflection of the fact that members from districts that are more evenly balanced ideologically now vote the way their colleagues from highly ideological districts vote. In other words, there is a big difference in the way Republicans and Democrats represent relatively neutral districts.

“Even in districts that turn over a lot, the gap between Republicans and Democrats in those districts has grown tremendously,” McCarty said.

Much of this has resulted from well-documented changes that have made each party more homogenous than in earlier eras. Two shifts account for many of these changes. The first is the realignment of the South, which has become solidly Republican. The second is the realignment outside the South with the decline of the liberal wing of the Republican Party in the Northeast and Midwest.

This is partially due to gerrymandering, but, as I’ve mentioned in the past, also due to the concentration of Democrats in urban districts giving Democrats larger margins of victory in a smaller number of Congressional districts.

If Republicans are more afraid of a losing a primary to a challenger from the far right than they are of losing a general election, they have little motivation to oppose the Tea Party agenda. While most people are frustrated by the impasse, I bet that many Democrats do enjoy seeing the right wing expose how radical they are.

The Republicans might have finally been given enough rope to hang themselves thanks to the Democrats refusing to negotiate with terrorists. As David Weigel put it, the Democrats finally got a spine. I’ve mentioned a couple of times  that business interests do not want to see the Tea Party destroy the economy (here and here). It is still early, but some business groups are already starting to recruit Republican candidates to oppose Republicans who support the Tea Party agenda.

“It’s a new dynamic, and we don’t know how far it’s going to go,” said Vin Weber, a former GOP congressman who is close to the House leadership. “All the energy in the Republican Party the last few years has come from the tea party. The notion that there might be some energy from the radical center, the people whose positions in the conservative mainstream are more center-right but who are just furious about the dysfunctionality of government — that’s different.”

If Republicans who move to the extreme fear a well-funded primary challenge we may have a change in the dynamics which make Republican candidates more likely to come from the far right. This effort will still face obstacles as more ideological conservatives are more likely to vote in primary elections. This could change if enough voters get fed up enough with Republican tactics to turn out to vote in primaries (or if Republican voters get fed enough to the point where they vote Democratic). While plenty of people are opposing both parties, the polling numbers continue to get worse for the Republicans. An ABC News/Washington Post poll shows these results:

Most of the changes for both parties come from previously undecided Americans coming to a negative opinion of their work. But a challenge for the Republicans in particular is that their disapproval ratings for handling the situation have increased numerically across the partisan board, among Republicans (+7 points), independents (+5) and Democrats (+9) alike.

The Democrats, by contrast, receive an additional 9 points of disapproval among Republicans compared with last week, but with essentially no change among independents or Democrats.
On Obama, political crosscurrents in effect cancel each other out.

deology, as well as partisanship, indicate difficulties for the GOP.  Even among conservatives, 59 percent disapprove of the way the Republicans in Congress are handling the situation, including nearly half of “very” conservatives (47 percent), rising to 68 percent of “somewhat” conservatives. Nearly three-quarters of moderates disapprove as well.

Obama does far better among moderates – 30 points better than the Republicans in approval for his handling of the situation. And he remains far stronger among liberals than the Republicans are among either conservatives overall or the “very” conservatives in their party’s base.

The Republicans also have lost ground at either end of the economic scale, moving from two-thirds disapproval a week ago to about three-quarters now both among Americans with household incomes less than $50,000 a year and among those with incomes more than $100,000.

Obama and the GOP do equally poorly among middle and upper-middle-income adults. But the Republicans are at three-quarters disapproval among women, have experienced a rise in disapproval the past week among young adults, and now are higher in disapproval compared with Obama even among whites, usually a much stronger group for the GOP.

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