Are more moderate voters moving away from the Republican party?
A new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll sees some evidence. Here's the analysis from NBC's "First Read" Friday:
"Our NBC/WSJ poll has shown that fewer respondents are identifying as Republicans. So who is leaving? Well, one set of numbers give us a big clue."
In a three-way generic congressional race, a Democrat gets 35 percent. The Republican gets 28 percent, and the independent or third party hopeful gets 30 percent.
"You might think that it's Tea Party Republicans who are siding with the third party/independent candidate," the analysis says. "But you'd be wrong. The third party support is coming most from self-identified independents and non-Tea Party Republicans."
In other words, the poll finds, "it's the Non-Tea Party folks who are splitting from the GOP."
The data show that among Democrats: 73 percent back the Democratic candidate, 2 percent support a GOP candidate, 19 percent third party/independent.
Among Republicans: 65 percent GOP candidate, 2 percent Dem, 28 percent third party/indie.
Among Tea Party Republicans: 72 percent GOP candidate, zero Dem, 25 percent third party/indie
Among NON-Tea Party Republicans: 58 percent GOP candidate, 5 percent Dem, 32 percent third party/indie
Independents: 13 percent GOP candidate, 12 percent Dem, 61 percent third party/indie
"And if you dig even deeper into the demographics, you see that a lot of groups that usually lean GOP (but ONLY lean) are the ones most intrigued about bolting to a third-party candidate," the poll analysis finds.
"A year ago, many Republican Party leaders were concerned about Tea Partiers leaving the party (it’s something Erick Erickson has threatened from time to time). But according to this polling data, the threat is from SOFTER more moderate Republicans."