There’s an interesting piece in the Times today that compares who is actually voting in the Republican primary with the voting population at large. It goes a long way toward explaining why this campaign has, in the year 2012, gotten to a place where we’re actually talking about whether contraception is okay, and why, in a nation where clear majorities support full marriage equality, the Republican primary contenders are competing with each other see who can hate gays the most. Read it all, but here’s a bit:

There is no other way to put this without resorting to demographic bluntness: the small fraction of Americans who are trying to pick the Republican nominee are old, white, uniformly Christian and unrepresentative of the nation at large.

None of that is a surprise. But when you look at the numbers, it’s stunning how little this Republican primary electorate resembles the rest of the United States. They are much closer to the population of 1890 than of 2012.

Given the level of media attention, we know an election of great significance is happening on the Republican side. But it’s occurring in a different place, guided by talk-radio extremists and religious zealots, with only a vague resemblance to the states where it has taken place. From this small world have emerged a host of nutty, retrograde positions, unpopular with the vast American majority.

He goes on to discuss how low turn-out is for this Republican primary. The nation has simply moved beyond these extreme wingnut positions, but to my eyes, it seems like the wingnuts are having some sort of last “hurrah.” Republicans hate their candidates, but the fringe that’s deciding this primary wouldn’t like any candidate who actually could appeal to a majority of Americans. At the end of the piece, the writer sums it up by saying that the voters in the Republican primary are truly “a nation unto itself,” and that’s the long and short of it. The rest of us, of course, support contraception and human rights and at least some semblance of an attachment to reality. Meanwhile, the very loud Republican primary continues with wingnuts yelling at each other about how Obama is a communist and women should hold an aspirin between their knees to prevent childbirth.

[h/t Blue Texan]