This is a question that has plagued the liberal elite for several decades now, ever since the rise of Rush, etc.
Liberal orthodoxy has it that it’s because conservatism plays right to the crowd who likes its political thought simple, without nuance, and with a dash of hate and racism mixed in.
I’ve come to my own conclusion that it is just the opposite, that “discussion media” (my term for talk radio, Fox News, and all the rest) appeals to conservatives precisely because it IS centered on DISCUSSION of issues. In other words, conservatives like to dig into what’s going on using long-proven methods of exposition of fact, acceptance of reality, belief in basic principles, and hard-edge application of those principles to current events.
Liberals, on the other hand, play in the “Unicorn Land” of children… imagining what life would be life if the sky weren’t blue and water wasn’t wet. It’s a fun exercise… but it doesn’t sustain ongoing serious discussion.
That’s what Limbaugh, Levin and other thrive on. Their programs are like “graduate schools of the air.” Only serious students need apply. Others can go to Air America (oh, wait – no they can’t!) and play in the sandbox of disproven (and unproven) ideas. But their “degrees” won’t be given the same credence by the adults who run the real world.
The long arc of history has shown us that unnatural (or forced) social constructs do not last long (Marxism, fascism, communism are just the 20th century examples) but that natural (or free) constructs always bubble back to life (freedom, liberty, etc.)
Conservatism – in its current manifestation – is about freedom.. personal and societal freedom. And freedom is something that always “plays in Peoria.”