Politics and Public Opinion, Polls

A GOP civil war? What you may have missed in the polls

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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.”

7 thoughts on “A GOP civil war? What you may have missed in the polls

  1. The GOP is dying because the people who are in control have lost touch with reality. As long as they talk about small government but keep spending like Democrats they will not have credibility with conservatives on the right. And as long as they ignore the civil liberties issues they will not have much credibility with the left. Insubstantial candidates like Paul Ryan or Chris Christie will not help matters much. They need now blood with new ideas and on that front Justin Amash and Rand Paul provide the best choice to spread libertarian ideas and grow support for the party.

    • I agree, Vangel. Continuing to be “Democrat Lite” is a path to oblivion. Give the voters a real choice or go home.

      • The trouble is that people like Chris, AIG, and quite a few of the readers on this site have abandoned the Old Right conservative positions of low spending and non-interventionism. They have forgotten that Republican presidents used to be elected to end foreign wars and nation building as they fell under the spell of the neoconservatives who argued for perpetual meddling abroad as a way to distract the populace from trouble at home.

  2. What does it mean to be “conservative” on gay marriage? On government spending? Schafly and Norquist would not give similar answers to these questions, for instance. I would not panic unless specific policy positions showed the same lopsided results.

  3. How about a different poll exploring where those of us on the right agree. I think there are large areas of agreement that get distorted by the media, and by current events that feature a particularly divisive question. There are Traditional Republicans (Establishment Republicans is this different?), Evangelical Republicans, Conservatives, Tea Party members, Libertarians, and RHINOs? Are there further divisions? I assume we don’t have to accept divisions of ethnicity, gender, class, national origin, and color. I assume we can leave that to the left. I forgot to include wealth, which played a large role in the last election.

    Liberals, of course, speak from talking points and seem to agree, while Republican divisions harm us in Congress, in elections (see the primaries in the last election), and in elections.

  4. the only “civil war” possibly going on, when one understands spectrums and differences of opinions is the war for power………elections, political apparatus’s.

    the dems have there own spectrum that they have to deal with, just no one in the liberal media talks about it. If people pointed this out then we could talk about the CIVIL WAR in the democratic party. See the dems hold a line on several issues…………..BUT there are way more items than merely “several issues”…..

    they’re just better coordinated than the republicans right now. That’s what this all amounts to. Of course there are the more activist members. I mean hell, what do folks think the left REALLY thinks about democrats?

    The main war going on right now is METHOD, PR, if you ask me. The more evangelical types just don’t have a clue on how to push anything. They speak in categorical forms which gives no way to maneuver. Mises pointed this out when he wrote about the problem of the christian church and the gosphels and LITERAL QUOTES.

    mises was right, and the left is using what he saw as a serious problem to their advantage. They want the argument both ways. harp about LUKE THIS AND LUKE THAT then slam laviticus……..(obama on camera doing that). It’s a mine field of parables that some of “right” have put us in. BARRY GOLDWATER pointed to the same problem.

    On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both.
    I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?
    And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.”

    Speech in the US Senate (16 September 1981)

    Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.
    Said in November 1994, as quoted in John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience (2006)

    Yes I’m agnostic, yet have no problem with religious folks for the most part. I think most would agree that the ten commandments are a good thing. The problem is obvious.

  5. then on the left we have the “bringers of JUSTICE”……..

    NOT much compromise there either, especially when they tie it to material belongings. Here we are again with A B OR C OR GO TO “HELL”……..

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