Nate Silver comes up with the mathematical explanation on why the GOP lost their collective minds. Here’s what the chart will show:
The Republican Party is dependent, to an extent unprecedented in recent political history, on a single ideological group. That group, of course, is conservatives. It isn’t a bad thing to be in favor with conservatives: by some definitions they make up about 40 percent of voters. But the terms ‘Republican’ and ‘conservative’ are growing closer and closer to being synonyms; fewer and fewer nonconservatives vote Republican, and fewer and fewer Republican voters are not conservative. …
The 2010 election was the first since exit polls began in 1976 in which a plurality of the voters said they were conservatives rather than moderates.
And as far their alleged mandate:
Many of the G.O.P. victories last year were extremely close. I calculate that, had the national popular vote been divided evenly, Democrats would have lost just 27 seats instead of 63. Put differently, the majority of Republican gains last year were probably due to changes in relative turnout rather than people changing their minds about which party’s approach they preferred.
Of course, by conservatives, he means the Tea Party, fundies, Fox viewers, Rush Limbaugh fans and such. Nate also thinks there’s a damn good chance Bachmann will win.
As for the enthusiam gap everyone was so hyped about in 2010, it was real enough. These were the anti-Obama people who turned out to vote and are likely to turn out again in 2012.
This reflects my own recent experience with “real Murkins.” I’ve been sort of dating a 70 year old widower recently. He’s an ex-Marine. He reads Drudge every day. He believes everything Rush Limbaugh says. He identifies himself as an independent conservative.
His social circle of friends regularly meet for early dinners in chain steakhouses. These people loathe Obama. Think he’s the worst president ever. They’re not bad people. But they’re apparently incapable of processing any information that conflicts with their world view.
If I point out verifiable facts about the GOP, they look at me like I’m from Mars, and politely tell me I’m the one who’s deluded. Oddly enough, they actually like me. I suppose it’s the novelty factor. I’m pretty sure I’m the only liberal they know.