In other words, Edsall attributes the relative lack of support of mainstream, moderate white voters for the Republican party to an ethos of racial tolerance, instead of an ethos of racial division.
But if this were the case with respect to racial attitudes, shouldn't we also expect that it would be the case regarding attitudes about legalized abortion? But Saletan reports that this is not the case regarding legalized abortion.
My Counter Interpretation of Edsall's Analysis
However, I would suggest that another interpretation of the same data that Edsall analyzes is possible -- namely, that the mainstream, moderate whites engaged their fighting spirit to fight against conservatives who advocate racial divide favoring whites over all others. Their engagement with the view of racial tolerance led them to engage their fighting spirit, instead of disengaging their fighting spirit in favor of a flight reaction or a freeze reaction.
But if my counter-analysis is correct regarding racial attitudes, why doesn't my counter-analysis seem to work in regard to legalized abortion? In other words, even though anti-abortionists did not succeed in the 2012 presidential election, why is it the case that they somehow are able to win as many elections as they do?
However, despite the election that the anti-abortionists manage to win, my counter-analysis also provides an explanation of why they manage to win -- the moderate, mainstream voters who generally support legalized abortion in polls have not been sufficiently motivated yet to stand up to and fight back against the anti-abortionists.
In my estimate, conservatives have understood the psychodynamics of political emotion well enough to understand that they need to motivate political anger and thereby engage the fight reaction to help voter turnout. (In addition, they also need to have ideas that sound appealing and candidates who sound appealing.)