Independent voters are not insane:
From that poll
about whether or not Obama was born in the U.S., this breakdown:
| ||Yes||No||Not sure|
Note that Independents are not anywhere close to the Republicans on this issue.
Independents are a key to winning elections. The real question isn't whether Obama was born in the U.S., but what Independents think about those (Republicans) who think Obama is not the legitimate president of the nation. Is it something that will keep Independents from pulling the R-lever?
RELATED: This St. Petersburg Times article
Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, likened the political situation posed by the birthers to that of the conservative John Birch Society in the 1960s. Though the group once enjoyed acceptance in conservative circles, many Republicans cut ties with the Birchers due to their increasingly extremist views that the federal government was filled with Communists, including Republican President Dwight Eisenhower.MORE:
Republicans need to follow their predecessors' lead with the birthers, Sabato said, or risk alienating politically necessary moderates in and out of the party. "It's poisoning the bloodstream of their party," he said. "If they lose some nutcases, all the better."
That same poll
asked this question:
Do you believe that America and Africa were once part of the same continent?
Leading in the "No" category were Republicans (24%Y/47%N
) which was an outlier compared to the other groups (although the South was close with 37%N
Independents were close to Democrats on this question (I: 44%Y/23%N
, D: 51%Y/16%N
There's been a lot of talk about how the Republicans have become a southern party, but these results show that it's better to say that Republicans are the party of bible fundamentalists. They don't think America and Africa were once connected since that couldn't have happened over the last 6,000 years.
With a fundamentalist-religion-based party, which is what the Republicans are now, you cannot use reason
to argue for an economic policy, an environmental policy, or a foreign policy. They believe what they believe, and that's that.
Oddly enough, this contingent can be good for Republicans as long as their beliefs are kept hidden from the general electorate. They are firm Republican voters. In the past, they may have been distributed more-or-less evenly between Republicans and Democrats, which would have helped the latter. If you were a Democratic strategist, wouldn't you want a dependable, though small, percentage of voters like that? Well, they aren't available right now.
The way Republicans can benefit from these people is to give them lip service on social issues (gay marriage, abortion, drug policy) to get their votes, but (somehow) signal to the wider electorate that a radical agenda isn't going to be implemented. Reagan did that fairly well. Bush Jr. too. But the failure of moderates or moderate-conservatives in the party make that seem unlikely today. So the Republicans will be seen as a kind of kooky (birther) and overly religious party.
Since they are horrible on foreign policy, health, education, the environment, fiscal policy and authority, why should we care about ANYTHING Republican?
I find the question odd. Given the high percentages of Americans that can't find the U.S. on a world map, the likelihood that 70% of Americans even HAVE an opinion on continental drift amazes me, still less that even 40% would have enough of a mental picture of Pangaea to be able to answer 'Yes' seems kind of unlikely.
I mean I guess its possible that half of America caught the same episode of Nova or American Geographic but it is just as likely that a good part of the sample couldn't define 'continent' is pressed up against the wall.
Bruce Webb: Points taken. But Republicans don't "believe" (whatever that means) in continental drift at a 2 to 1 ratio. For Democrats, it's the other way around with a 3 to 1 ratio. That's a pretty sharp differential on a topic that (as you point out) may have a substantial number of people unaware of the scientific view.