Indeed, I kept thinking this would be a massively losing strategy for them, and anticipated the Republicans getting squished in the 2016 elections for the “If it comes from Obama, it must be stopped” strategy.
Unfortunately, I appear to have been very wrong. While I consider the presidential battle to be a bit of a coin flip (it’s usually a percent or two flip that decides it), the fact that the Republicans pretty much dominate state and federal governments indicates to me (as a foreigner) that the Republican message speaks to a large number of Americans…
Mostly I attribute this to higher-individualism culture and far lower rates of big-city urbanization, but I’ll admit I’m completely guessing with respect to the Republican-supporting American electorate. (My social connections in both Canada and the US span nearly the the width of Canadian political spectrum, but that still puts pretty much everyone I know to the left of the Democrats.)
Anyway, I’m unwilling to assume that a huge number of Americans (or any group) are either deeply stupid or just simply evil, so I’ll stick with sociological speculation about culture.