Potential 2016 GOP candidates split

Three potential Republican presidential contenders split on the Senate's immigration vote on Wednesday afternoon, highlighting divisions within the party that could echo in 2016.

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Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), one of the bill's architects, voted in favor, while Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) opposed it.

The bill passed 68-32, with 14 Republicans and every Democrat voting in favor.

Their votes came as little surprise and followed a split earlier Thursday, when the Senate voted to end debate on the bill. 

Paul and Cruz have opposed the bill because it lacks what they believe to be adequate border security provisions. 

Their position aligns with that of most conservative grassroots and Tea Party groups, which formed the backbone of their support in their Senate runs.

Those groups are also typically the most active in presidential primaries, and Paul and Cruz's positions could boost them among that set if they choose to run.

Rubio, on the other hand, has taken significant flak from conservatives for his work on the bill. Looking towards 2016, he remains perhaps the most at risk in a potential presidential primary for his prominent role in the reform effort.

A poll released this week showed his favorability among Republicans dropping 10 points over the past month, now at 58 percent.

A Tea Party audience booed the mention of Rubio’s name at a rally against reform hosted by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) last week.

Former GOP vice presidential nominee and Tea Party figurehead Sarah Palin suggested Rubio should face a primary challenge going forward.

"Every politician should be held accountable for breaking their campaign promises," Palin said on Fox News Radio this week. "They turned their back on the American public, so why should they not be held accountable?"

Rubio acknowledged the criticism in a Senate floor speech, calling it "a real trial" hearing Tea Party charges that he had abandoned his conservative values.

“I have received numerous emails and calls from conservatives and Tea Party activists. Their opinions and concerns really matter to me because they stood with me during my election,” Rubio said.

"To hear the worry, anxiety and growing anger in the voices of so many people who helped me get elected to the Senate, who I agree with on virtually every other issue, has been a real trial for me.”