In my last few hours as guest blogger here, I'd like to offer some anecdotal evidence in support of Ezra's post below. Ezra says:
As David Neiwert wrote (in a post I can't seem to find), Rush and his ilk are some of the only folks on air in rural areas. So these farmers and laborers driving long distances for this or that really have nothing else to tune into on the AM. No wonder Democrats are getting stomped in rural areas!
When I was visiting my mother in Tennessee over the summer, I got in her car with her. As she turned turned the key, the radio came on and, softly but distinctly, I heard the melodious strains of one of Sean Hannity's diatribes. I was surprised. My mom votes generally votes republican, but she's not a natural partisan. She doesn't particularly like Bush, and had her problems with the Iraq war. So of course, I say, "Mom, why would you listen to Sean Hannity? He's a hack." She responds: "Well, I don't really listen to him, but I have him on in the background." "But mom," I say, "you can listen to NPR if you want talk radio." Mom says, "Oh, I don't like NPR. It's gotten so liberal."
I find this response distressing, and try, unsuccessfully, to convince her otherwise. Within a few weeks my mom is telling me that she doesn't like John Kerry because he has no core; he's a flip-flopper. Oh, and she doesn't trust him because he threw his medals away.
At home my mom watches is HGTV. I don't think she even knows where the news channels are on her dial. None of her friends are particularly interested in politics. The only place that she could possibly have osmosized republican talking points about John Kerry was on talk radio, and she did so apparently without realizing it, only half listening to the background noise in her car. So when Ezra says:
We are losing the war, there. We simply don't have outlets coloring the subconscious perceptions of voters. While Rush beams into 20 million ears and his cadre of imitators scream into a few million more, we're no longer sending out vicious labor literature, or indeed any sort of opinionated and consistent attack propaganda.
I don't think he could have gotten it more right.