"We have an identity crisis, and you see the identity crisis playing out through all the various fissures"

“There’s got to be a better way of dealing with the party’s problems than having our better-known leaders out there in open combat,” Galen said. “This could metastasize into — it’s not going to be a war, but it could be an ongoing conflict that makes everything harder for everything.”

Polls affirm the deep Republican angst more than six months after an election wipeout that stirred the party’s re-examination of itself.

A Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday found that two-thirds of Republicans agree that their party needs to address “major” internal problems. But Republicans are split more narrowly, 54-40, on whether that means they should veer more toward the conservative or the moderate direction.

“There is a very substantial segment of the party – call them Tea Partiers, or just very conservative people — that’s pulling the party, and makes it hard for the party leadership to tack in any direction of compromise,” said Michael Dimock, the Pew center’s director.