Fifty-four percent of Republican voters believe the party must tack to the right, while another 40 percent believe the opposite — that the GOP must become more centrist.
The Pew Research Center poll released Thursday highlights the division between Tea Party supporters and others in the party. On nearly every issue, from same-sex marriage to government spending, a plurality of Tea Party voters believes the party is not conservative enough.
Those results have the potential to affect the Republican presidential race in 2016, with the poll finding that the Tea Party has an outsized influence in GOP primaries. While 37 percent of Republicans surveyed identified with the Tea Party, 49 percent of GOP primary voters are made up of the conservative faction.
Former GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanGOP prepares release of funding bill to avoid shutdown How the president-elect will 'Trump-start' the economy Dems introduce ‘Buy American’ amendment to water bill MORE (R-Wis.) is viewed the most favorably of the potential 2016 candidates with 65 percent support. His numbers rocket up to 81 percent favorability among Tea Party voters.
He is followed in order by Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulGOP rep: Trump has 'extra-constitutional' view of presidency The ignored question: What does the future Republican Party look like? Rand Paul skeptical about Romney as secretary of State MORE (R-Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco RubioSenate GOP to Obama: Stop issuing new rules Juan Williams: McConnell won big by blocking Obama The ignored question: What does the future Republican Party look like? MORE (R-Fla.), and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).
Christie’s favorability numbers trail all other potential contenders with 47 percent favorability and 30 percent disapproval. His unfavorables spike up five percent among Tea Party voters.
The poll was conducted among 497 Republicans and Republican-leaning registered voters.