Chris Kromm, of Facing South and the Institute for Southern Studies, analyzes a recent DailyKos poll that shows that an astonishingly large number of Republican voters hold far-right views--that President Obama is racist, a socialist, and a non-citizen.
Kromm reports that the survey is skewed because 42 percent of its 2,000 respondents were from the South. The survey, Fromm says, does not accurately reflect attitudes of Republicans nationwide. But it does provide an accurate, and alarming, picture of Republican attitudes in the South. Writes Kromm:
This over-sampling of Southern Republicans (846 total) skews the national results, but it also means the data gives us an especially rich picture of the views held by GOP voters in the South.
And the picture is unmistakable: On almost every issue, Southern Republicans are far to the right of their national GOP brethren. In fact, GOP Southerners appear to be the driving base for some of the most extreme views circulating in the Republican Party today.
To measure this, normally we'd compare the Southern results to the national average, and then see what the difference is. But since the poll disproportionately surveyed Southerners to start with, instead I looked at how the Southern answers compared to the next most conservative region.
The next most conservative region in each case was the Midwest. And Kromm focuses on four questions to show the difference between Southern attitudes compared to those in the Midwest:
QUESTION: Should Barack Obama be impeached, or not?
South: 42% yes
Next-highest region: 38% yes
Southern difference: +4%
QUESTION: Do you believe Barack Obama was born in the United States, or not?
South: 43% no
Next-highest region: 33% no
Southern difference: +10%
QUESTION: Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?
South: 67% yes
Next-highest region: 61% yes
Southern difference: +6%
QUESTION: Do you believe Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win?
South: 28% yes
Next-highest region: 22% yes
Southern difference: +6%
Kromm is quick to note that the South is hardly the only region that is home to alarming far-right views. In the West, for example, 60 percent of Republican voters said they believe Obama is a socialist. But there is something peculiar about the South:
It's . . . clear that the South remains a uniquely strong base for the GOP's most extreme views. The embrace of Southern Republicans of the "birther" issue is especially notable, given its likely roots in discomfort with Obama's cultural and racial heritage.
In short: The poll doesn't reflect a general shift to the right in the South. But it does show the growing hold of a certain form of far-right politics in Southern Republican circles, and a high level of receptivity among Republican Southerners to some of the conservative movement's most extreme views.