Jack Kimball, a former New Hampshire GOP chairman, said he was "elated" that conservatives thwarted Boehner. He called the looming deadline a political creation. "The Republicans really need to stand on their principles. They have to hold firm."
Conservative opposition to compromise with Obama does not reflect the view of most Americans, according to recent public opinion polls.
A CBS News survey conducted this month found that 81 percent of adults wanted Republicans in Congress to compromise in the current budget negotiations to get a deal done rather than "stick to their positions even if it means not coming to an agreement." The vast majority of Republicans and independent voters agreed.
Overall, 47 percent in the poll said they blamed Republicans in Congress more than Obama and Democrats for recent "difficulties in reaching agreements and passing legislation in Congress." About one-quarter placed more blame on the Democrats and 21 percent said both were responsible.
Although negotiations broke down last week, Obama still hopes to broker a larger debt-reduction deal that includes tax increases on high earners and Republican-favored cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. If a compromise continues to prove elusive, lawmakers could pass a temporary extension that delays the cliff's most onerous provisions and gives Congress more time to work out a longer-term solution.
That's becoming the favored path by some Republicans leery of going over the cliff.
Mississippi Republican Chairman Joe Nosef shares his Southern colleagues' disdain for tax increases. But he stopped short of taking an absolute position.
"I really, really feel like the only way that Republicans can mess up badly is if they come away with nothing on spending or something that's the same old thing where they hope a Congress in 10 years will have the intestinal fortitude to do it," he said.
Matt Kibbe, president of the national organization and tea party ally, FreedomWorks, says that going over the cliff would be "a fiscal disaster." He says "the only rational thing to do" is approve a temporary extension that prevents widespread tax increases.
But his message doesn't seem to resonate with conservative activists in the states.
"If we have to endure the pain of the cliff then so be it," said Mark Anders, a Republican committeeman for Washington state's Lewis County. "While it may spell the end of the Republican Party ... at least we will force the government to cut and cut deep into actual spending."
Back where the Boston Tea Party protest took place in 1773, Morabito wonders whether Boehner will survive the internal political upheaval and says Republicans need to unite against Obama.
"It looked like from the very beginning they were just going to cave to what President Obama wanted," she said of the GOP. "I didn't want that to happen. Now I'm hopeful that they're standing up for tax-paying Americans."
Associated Press writers Bill Barrow in Atlanta, Rachel La Corte and Michael Baker in Washington state, Thomas Beaumont in Iowa, and AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta in Washington contributed to this report.