If this poll is to be believed, large pluralities and sometimes majorities of Republican voters have extremist views. Almost a quarter of them think Obama may be the Antichrist and their state should secede from the Union. More than a third of them think Obama is a foreign-born pretender to the throne that ought to be impeached. Nearly two thirds are confident that he’s a socialist. A whopping 77% believe Genesis should be taught in lieu of the big bang, a scientific theory on about the same foundation as the theory of gravity.
These numbers don’t suggest that every Republican is an extremist, but they are more evidence that moderates face stiff odds in Republican primaries. Maybe the demise of the Rockefeller Republican has been inevitable since the elder Bush ran unsuccessfully as a moderate against Reagan. Or maybe the end came later, when that same Bush lost the support of the Republican base over taxes and his lack of religious fervor. Whatever the case, take a good hard look at Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Olympia Snowe, because someday you can tell your kids you saw the political equivalent of a dodo bird. As is always the case in an extinction, we can’t yet know how their absence will affect the wider system.