A fierce civil war is roiling the Republican Party. Last week, the House Republican Conference ousted Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) from her position as conference chair, irritated by her continuing challenges to former president Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 presidential election. Meanwhile, reports suggest that more than 100 prominent Republicans are preparing to release a letter threatening to leave the GOP and form a third party unless the Republican Party makes certain changes that involve shaking off Trump’s grip.

The United States hasn’t seen such a level of conflict within a major party for decades. It’s especially startling given the intense polarizationbetween the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, with each party’s followers lined up in tense opposition to the other’s beliefs.

How will this civil war affect Republican voters?…

Does conflict within the party push Republicans away? It depends on their convictions.

When Democrats or strongly committed Republicans read about clashing GOP lawmakers, it had little or no effect on their attitudes. They were no more or less committed to the party, and they felt no more or less strongly about the opposing party’s threat to democracy, than those in a control group.

But Republicans with weaker commitments to the party did lose faith in the party after reading about GOP conflict. I used a measure of overall party opinion that takes into account favorable or unfavorable attitudes toward the party as well as trust in the party to handle U.S. problems. After reading about the GOP’s internal clashes, weak Republicans’ overall opinion of the party dropped by about six percentage points, compared with the control group or the group who read about clashes between the parties….

However, less committed Republicans did not become more interested in a potential third party. That’s bad news for any possible Republican Party offshoot, which probably wouldn’t gain traction among elected officials or voters.

Instead, weaker Republicans who read about GOP conflict over the election started thinking more highly of the Democratic Party, and became less likely to view it as a threat. Their opinion toward the Democratic Party grew six percentage points more favorable, and belief that the Democratic Party threatens democracy dropped by eight percentage points.

In other words, the Republican Party’s internal civil war could push some less committed Republican voters to the Democrats.

Of course, there’s more to the story