The last two election cycles were fun, but for decades we were told that right-wingers and Republicans are "normal," even when they engage in racist attacks or blow up federal buildings, while liberals and Democrats are dirty hippies who don't go to church and eat arugula and use four-letter words in public. That ingrained notion doesn't go away overnight, or even in a few years. And the right-wing/corporate noise machine knows just how to tap into it.But there's another problem here (apart from the fact that nobody took my advice): as long as the conflict is between 'people' and 'politicians', people are going to instinctively side with 'people', even to the brink of physical violence. If it were clearer that this is a conflict between 'people' and people--that the thugs aren't just getting in the face of 'politicians', they're actually trampling all over the right of other people to be heard--I think the polling would be very different. As it is, though, the people who are getting shut out of the process (not just supporters, but non-crazy people with legitimate questions) are virtually invisible in all of this.
The only way to have turned this around (apart from taking my advice, of course) would have been to mobilize the (pardon the term) silent majority who were shouted down. A dozen or so calls to each local TV station, a dozen or so letters to the editor, maybe some complaints to the police, all coming from the people who are really getting screwed by the thugs, would at least have had a chance of changing the public perception of the dynamic.