The movement toward intellectual parity is not a novelty of the last Presidential election cycle or two. Setting the Wordsum average for whites to the equivalent of an IQ of 100, the average (mean, both cases) intelligence of voters in each Presidential election, extending back to 1976:
The Republican IQ advantage (disadvantage) by election:
1976, Carter v Ford: 6.1
1980, Carter v Reagan: 6.5
1984, Mondale v Reagan: 2.9
1988, Dukakis v Bush: 0.1 (equal in table due to rounding)
1992, Clinton v Bush: 2.2
1996, Clinton v Dole: 3.5
2000, Gore v Bush: 0.2
2004, Kerry v Bush: (0.5)
The sample sizes for "other" are too small to put much stake in (ranging from 10 to 25). To a lesser degree, the same is true for the third party candidates, although the trend is for outsiders to attract relatively intelligent supporters. That's not surprising, since merely seeking them out requires some degree of intellectual curiosity.
Relatedly, notice how even though the white average is set at 100 and NAMs are included in these figures, the averages are almost all above 100. Eligible voter participation rates and IQ correlate at .65 (p=0) at the state level, and both educational and income profiles show the average voter to be considerably more educated and wealthy than the average residents of the most educated and wealthiest states.
The southern Democrats tended to draw more modest minds than their northern counterparts did. Still, the Republican advantage has been diminishing over time. This is even more 'troublesome' when it is remembered that the Democratic party has become increasingly non-white over time. So the shrinking of the GOP's IQ advantage has probably accelerated faster among whites than it has among all voters (I will look at this separately soon to see if that presumption is affirmed).
The Republican party needs more Mitt Romney and more Ron Paul to draw in smarter supporters. It needs less of Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin to do the same. But the former seem to repulse putatively indispensable Evangelicals while the latter attracts them.
The political stakes are high. What to do? I could never cut it as a political strategist.
GSS variables used: WORDSUM, PRESXX
* The GSS did not provide an "other" category for the '04 Presidential election.