There’s two things that Republican voters seem to really agree on, according to a new Pew Poll: They know they need to change to win the White House, and they like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
A full two-thirds (67 percent) of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, the poll finds, agree the party “needs to make major changes” in order to do better in future presidential elections, with 59 percent agreeing that it needs to “reconsider some positions.”
However, a slight majority of Tea Party members and sympathizers — 51 percent — say that the party should simply make a stronger case for existing stands. While only 37 percent of Republican-leaning voters identify with the Tea Party, that group makes up 49 percent of those who are most likely to vote in a primary.
A majority of Republicans, 54 percent, say the party should be more conservative, but the party is nearly split in thirds when asked if elected Republicans had compromised too much, too little or just right. Most Tea Partiers, however, think leaders have compromised too much.
Given that most congresspeople and senators occupy safe seats, they’re far more likely to lose in a primary election than to a Democratic opponent, which means Tea Party opinions will probably drive the GOP agenda even as its popularity wanes with Republicans.
Moderate and non-Tea Party voters prefer “less conservative” stands on same-sex marriage, abortion and gun policy, while the Tea Party wants the GOP to become “more conservative” on all three issues. But there is some clarity when it comes to government spending and immigration, with all Republican voters agreeing that Republicans should take “more conservative” stands on these two issues. Reducing government spending is always a popular stand — until people are asked about what should be cut specifically.
When it comes to 2016 candidates, Paul Ryan is the clear favorite among Tea Partiers and non-Tea Partiers alike, which could mean that he’s the one Republican in Congress who might be able to get away with a crazy plan to push immigration reform.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is the second most popular potential 2016 candidate, with 70 percent of Tea Party respondents approving of him. The man Paul called “The King of Bacon,” Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), has the highest unfavorable rating with the Tea Party at 35 percent. And though Christie is extremely popular in his state and is the only national Republican with positive favorable ratings with independents and Democrats, he does not break 50 percent approval with Republicans overall.
Republicans’ most predictable problem, given that they don’t hold the White House, is the complete lack of an identified leader in the party. A majority say that there is no leader or that they don’t know who is leading the party.
Photo: Brett Ryan via Flickr.com