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Government shutdown shines light on GOP split

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RALEIGH -- The split in Republican ranks is not new. It has been apparent within the party for several years now, with more conservative and moderate Republicans disagreeing on some issues. That split became more visible during the recent federal government shutdown.

Republican lawmakers were split in their votes to re-open government, 27 senators and 87 House members siding with Democrats to stop the shutdown. Political observers say it is times like these that make it hard to keep the party as a united voice.

“It is a very difficult issue for leaders within the Republican party, because you are listening to two sets of voices,” said David McLennan with William Peace University.

These different philosophies on the conservative spectrum create the most questions in election times when candidates have to decide if they want to appeal to the Republican base or the general electorate.

“I think that is always the threat,” said McLennan. “If you are a Republican and don't tow the Tea Party line, you can get threatened with another Tea Party candidate.”

Some say these factions in the party do not necessarily spell trouble for Republicans, although it may not be as easy as it would be with a united front.

“The division is a trade off,” said Jason Husser with Elon University. “In some ways it helps the Republican party, because they can speak to a wide variety of voters. It allows them to appeal to more conservative districts and more moderate districts. However, there are also costs, because at a national level it sends very mixed signals, and you see parties not working together for really important things, like raising the debt ceiling.”

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