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The public policy blog of the American Enterprise Institute
In recent weeks, GOP differences on immigration, Obamacare repeal, and NSA surveillance have been much on display in Washington. What do rank-and-file Republicans and Tea Party members think about their party? A new poll from the Pew Research Center provides some answers.
We have a problem: In the July poll, 30% of self-identified Republicans and Independents who lean Republican said the GOP needed to “make minor changes” to do better in future presidential elections, but 67% said the party needed to address major problems. Sixty-nine percent of Tea Party Republican voters said their party needs to address major problems, as did 65% of non-Tea Party Republicans.
In response to another question, 51% of Tea Party Republicans said the party must make a stronger case for its positions in order to do better (46% of this group said the party needed to reconsider some of its positions). Among non-Tea Party Republicans, those responses were 26% and 70%, respectively.
Which way to go? Fifty-four percent of Republicans in the poll said GOP leaders should move in a more conservative direction, while 40% wanted a move in a moderate direction. Nearly seven in ten Tea Party Republican voters (69%) wanted GOP leaders to move in a more conservative direction. Forty-three percent of non-Tea Party Republicans gave that response.
Compromise? Fifty-three percent of Tea Party Republicans said Republicans in Congress had compromised too much with congressional Democrats; only 22 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans felt that way. Around three in ten in both groups say members have handled this about right.
Who is popular?: Paul Ryan led in favorability among all Republicans, with a 65% favorable rating. Eighty-one percent of Tea Partiers gave that response. Rand Paul was 10 points behind Ryan in favorability among all Republicans. Seventy percent of Tea Party Republicans liked him. Marco Rubio had a 50% favorable rating among all Republicans and Chris Christie a 47% rating. Tea Party Republicans were much higher on Rubio (59%) than they were on Christie (47%). At this point, 53% of Republicans had no opinion of Ted Cruz. Of those who had an opinion, 33% had a favorable view of him and 13% an unfavorable view.
Tea Party time: Thirty-seven percent of the Republicans in the poll said they agreed with the Tea Party; among Republicans who always vote in the primaries, that rose to 49%.
On the issues: Of the five issues Pew asked about, Republicans were most likely to say that the GOP wasn’t conservative enough about government spending. Only 10% of Republicans thought the Republican Party’s position on government spending was too conservative. Forty-six percent said it was not conservative enough. Forty-one percent said it was about right.
Opinions were much more divided when it came to gay marriage. Thirty-one percent thought the Republican Party was too conservative on the issue. Twenty-seven percent thought it was not conservative enough. Thirty-three percent said it was about right. Tea Party versus non-Tea Party divisions surfaced here too. Those in the non-Tea Party camp were more inclined to say the party was too conservative on gay marriage, while Tea Party supporters said the GOP was “not conservative enough.”
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