The Republican problem

Today's must-read article is this report by Democracy Corps summarizing the results of their focus group testing of conservative Republicans and independents. They sampled one group of Republican voters in Georgia and one group of white, non-college voters from Ohio (the independents). To summarize,
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.
The quotes from the Republicans are harrowing; they back up the above conclusion 100%. Obviously the beliefs of any group of voters will sound a little wonky but these people are living in a parallel universe. The Republican politicians' problem is that to win the primary they need to win over these conservative (if conservative is really the right word) voters, but to win the general election they need to win over independents, who have worries about Obama but generally don't believe that he, as the arm of a secret cabal, is going to bring about the ruin of the United States. Furthermore the base believes that most Republican politicians have "sold out" - the only figure they support enthusiastically is Sarah Palin. How can I prove that Obama isn't trying to bring about the destruction of America, that Fox News isn't the only media channel telling "the truth," and that we are not going to become a socialist economy? I'm not sure that I can, with words; think about how hard of a job the evolutionists have, and the science is on their side all the way. But I could with bets; asking someone to put their money where their mouth is is the easiest way to get them to say what they really believe to be true. Perhaps we could ask them to, as Robin Hanson and Bryan Caplan suggest, put their money where their mouth is; force them to make specific bets on their political beliefs. If, as they suggest, the rest of America is wrong and uninterested in knowing the truth, there would be a lot of money to be made by betting on a government takeover of other sectors of the economy, or on the growth of GDP, etc. But for a large group of people to be this wrong about the state of things cannot be good for the country at large.

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