The split was evident at the tea party meeting in Clovis, where many voters said they were torn between DeVore and Fiorina.
Nancy Mattrocce, a 56-year-old agricultural consultant, said she had been concerned that Fiorina was a Republican in name only. But after hearing her speak, she decided to switch her vote from DeVore to Fiorina "because I do believe that she will win."
"It's playing chess," she said, adding that she believed that as a woman Fiorina could sway more voters than DeVore. "She's got 60 to 70% of my values, and if I can get 60 to 70% that's better than zero."
Brown, the voter who was undecided at the El Dorado Hills event, said later that she and her friends discussed the same question of electability on their drive home from the event.
It was clear, she said, that Fiorina could "sparkle people up and get them all excited," but "the meat wasn't there."
"He's not very exciting, but I believe in everything he says," she said of DeVore. "I will be unhappy with myself if I don't go with the proven conservative. She has no track record."