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 RyanRyan, McConnell predict ‘positive, upbeat’ message from Trump Retired generals urge Congress not to cut funds for diplomacy ObamaCare quietly leaves mark on Medicare despite repeal push 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 PaulTop House conservatives won't back draft ObamaCare replacement Freedom Caucus chair says he'd vote against draft ObamaCare replacement Paul: Stop 'hysteria' on Trump and Russia MORE (R-Ky.) and Marco RubioMarco RubioTHE MEMO: Trump takes the fight to Congress Rubio says town halls designed for people to 'heckle and scream' At CPAC, Trump lashes out at media 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.