Timothy Noah

How Crazy is the GOP?

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[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner]

Ross Douthat's New York Times column yesterday made the argument that the much-maligned Republican Party has not gone crazy. Republican voters showed no interest in voting for Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, or Donald Trump, and they (the voters) are inevitably going to hand the nomination over to Mitt Romney.

Jon Chait has responded by arguing that Romney is going to win the nomination because he (Romney) has been acting like a crazy man. Beyond that, he has vastly more money than his opponents, none of whom are good politicians.

Responding to Chait, Douthat argues that he (Chait) has been wrong in previously predicting that the more extreme candidates have a chance at winning the nomination.

It's an interesting debate, to be sure, but both Chait and Douthat seem to be missing the most obvious point. Simply put, the GOP has four candidates in the race. Three of them are, well, kooky. Those three candidates combined are getting significantly more than half the vote. In other words, more than half of Republican voters are voting for extreme candidates. Has anything like this ever occurred? It certainly seems unprecedented in recent American political history.

P.S. As a side note, Chait mentions my favorite tidbit from a poll of Mississippi Republicans: 54% think interracial marriage should be legal. Hooray for the majority!

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