School is in session, droolers... pay attention!!!
There have been several scientific studies in recent years chalking up differences between liberals and conservatives to, at least in part, differences in brain chemistry: In short, conservatives tend to have more fear-driven personalities and more binary responses to perceived threats. (Think BeachChair, rodentess, TeaJerk, HappyDunce, Questor2002,2003,2004, and other assorted fearful white geezers)
Knowing that such a correlation exists in laboratory settings is helpful, but how does that relate to today's political reality?
Democracy Corps has released some fascinating new qualitative research (conducted by Democratic pollster Greenberg Quinlan Rosner) that does a deep dive into the Republican brain; while they don't explicitly draw the link to the more rigorous studies on Republicanism and fear, much of what they elicited via focus group is, in a word, about fear ... fear of the Other, fear of losing the privilege that they've previously taken for granted, fear of losing ground.
Understand that the base thinks they are losing politically and losing control of the country – and their starting reaction is "worried," "discouraged," "scared," and "concerned" about the direction of the country – and a little powerless to change course.
They think Obama has imposed his agenda, while Republicans in DC let him get away with it.