This wasn't done by people who were idiots. It wasn't done by people who didn't know what they were doing. Atwater, Ailes, Rove, et alia, knew exactly what they were doing, and they did it anyway. Votes in each electoral cycle were always a much higher priority for Republicans than either the long-term success of the country as a whole, or even the long-term success of their own party. In effect, they solved a short term problem — dissolving the old FDR-LBJ Democratic coalition, and maintaining the energy of that newfound base for the GOP — by letting someone else deal with the consequences much later.
The basic error was in cultivating conservative Christianists who (among many other toxic errors of thinking) place their faith in Creationism above the absolutely overwhelming evidence for the Theory of Evolution. This immediately privileged personal belief over objective reality. In the years since the GOP first began stirring the Christianist pot, that privileging of personal belief over objective reality has extended to other matters of science such as climate change denialism, as well to matters of ideology, such as the supply side economics myth that tax cuts promote growth.
None of these positions are positions that anyone comes to from an objective evaluation of the evidence. There is absolutely no evidence-based position for evolution denial whatsoever, that's just a matter of very theologically confused people mistaking private faith for external reality. The very slender potential evidence-based position for climate change denial collapses at even a cursory examination — the BEST project proved that decidedly, though it wasn't exactly in objective contention before Dr. Muller decided to test the data in line with conservative assertions about flaws in climate science and came to realize they were flatly wrong. The tax cut benefits promised by supply side economics have never materialized in the thirty years since Arthur Laffer invented the theory as a gag on a bar napkin, but the GOP is currently busy suppressing the evidence against one of their most important pet theories. (Obviously they learned from the BEST project what happens when someone takes an objective, evidence-based look at a core conservative idea that can't be defended on its own merits.) Talking about the Republican position on women's reproductive health as so clearly evidenced in this past election would take up half a dozen more blog posts, but suffice to say that in this most recent election cycle the GOP boldly proved on the national stage over and over again that cherished conservative beliefs about reproduction, contraception and pregnancy wouldn't pass muster in a reasonably well-run junior high school health class.
In other words, you have to have faith strong enough to ignore reality in order to hold any of these conservative positions. Which pretty much forces reality to have a liberal bias, as the natural world doesn't care what your pastor or Rush Limbaugh or the GOP party platform says.
There is no objective reason for reality to have a liberal bias. It does so because conservatives have painted themselves into an intellectual and philosophical corner over and over and over again. Both the conservative movement and the nation as a whole would be far better served by them coming to their senses, so our national arguments can be constructive ones about how to deal with what's happening in the world around us, rather than the endless, ridiculous culture wars the GOP has damaged our society with in an effort to generate more angry white men.
We can only hope, but I do not find much cause to do so.