In thinking about the relationship between cowardice and conservatism, I began to wonder if the degree of cowardice in personalities is normally distributed such that about half the people cluster around an average measurement where they are neither especially timid nor especially bold. On either end of the distribution would be the timids and the braves, each representing about a quarter of the population. Suppose also that intelligence and timidity are independent variables and that level of intelligence is unaffected by or unrelated to degree of timidity. That would mean that the population could be divided up into the following categories:
Stupid and cowardly folks would comprise the solid core constitiuency of the conservative movement. They amount to 6.25% of the population. No effort is needed to frighten them or to misinform them as they are already both extremely anxious and ignorant. They welcome a fascist police state as their only hope for security.
Normal and cowardly folks comprise 12.5% of the population. They are ready to be afraid, and their limited ability for abstract thought makes them prime targets for GOP misinformation. With their stupid and cowardly fellow travellers, they make up the reliable conservative base.
Smart and cowardly folks are 6.25% of the population. They want to be afraid, but they aren't entirely susceptible to right wing propaganda. They need at least a plausible threat and are as apt to direct their fear at conservatives as at any bogeyman the conservatives propose. They are not reliably Republican. At best, half can be counted on to vote Republican.
Stupid and brave folks are another 6.25%. They are not motivated by fear, but they can be duped into almost anything because of their stupidity. They are a wild card and can't be counted on by either side, but about half will end up with the GOP for random and inexplicable reasons.
(This gets us to the solid 25% that the GOP can count on no matter what, the same 25% that approved of GW Bush no matter how big a failure he was. The rest of the categories require the GOP to do some work.)
Normal and brave folks are 12.5% of the population. Fear does not motivate them, but they are not entirely immune to misinformation about other things. They cannot be counted on by the GOP.
Smart and brave folks are another 6.25%. They can't be frightened or fooled. Some of them are evil, however, and will support the GOP for personal gain eg Wall Street moguls.
Stupid and neither brave nor cowardly make up 12.5% of the population. These folks are up for grabs by the GOP because they can be made fearful by taking advantage of their stupidity.
Normal and neither brave nor cowardly is the largest category with 25% of the people. They are the battleground.
Smart and neither brave nor cowardly are 12.5%. They are a hard sell for the GOP without a plausible threat, and you can't fool them forever.