Are you paying attention to the IRS and Benghazi controversies?
May 17th, 2013
10:06 AM ET
5 years ago

Are you paying attention to the IRS and Benghazi controversies?

Washington (CNN) - Around half the public is tuned in to the controversies that are consuming the nation's capital, according to a new poll.

But the Gallup survey indicates party affiliation is playing a role in how closely people are keeping an eye on the controversies. And according to the poll, most say further investigation is needed.

Fifty-four percent of Americans say they've very or somewhat closely watched the news that the Internal Revenue Service applied greater scrutiny to conservative political groups that applied for tax exempt status. Twenty-two percent said they were not following the news that closely and just under one in four are not watching that closely.

About the same percentage of Americans are tuned into the congressional hearings into last September's attack in Benghazi, which left the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans dead. According to the poll, 53% were very or somewhat closely watching, with 22% not following the news that closely and just under a quarter not watching at all.

"Despite extensive news coverage of these stories in recent days, the level of attention being paid to each is below the average 60% of Americans who have closely followed more than 200 news stories Gallup has measured over the past several decades," says a release by Gallup. "Additionally, Americans appear to be paying almost exactly the same levels of attention to both stories, despite the relative newness of the IRS story during the time in which this survey was in the field."

There's a big partisan divide over who's watching.

Two-thirds of Republicans said they were very or somewhat closely watching IRS and Benghazi controversies. That number drops to the low to mid fifties for independents and the low to mid forties for Democrats questioned in the survey.

Nearly three quarters agree that the IRS controversy needs to be investigated, with 69% feeling the same thing about the Benghazi situation. But as with who's watching, there's a wide partisan divide over the need for further investigation.

The Gallup poll was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday with 1,022 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: IRS • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    Sure, Republicans are more concerned with these controversies than the Democrats, they believe "EVERY" word that President Obama says, everytime he is caught talking out of both sides of his mouth, they believe that he must have mis-spoke. and he knew nothing about it.

    May 17, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. Sniffit

    Benghazi isn't a controversy anymore. The controversy is that the GOP/Teatrolls doctored emails and LITERALLY fabricated quotes, then fed them to the MSM, which then uncritically and without checking published it all as though it was absolutely true and to be believed without question. This latest crap is the MSM's attempt to switch gears from Benghazi to the IRS issue without having to admit that they were wrong, that Benghazi "cover up" accusations were manufactured and a Big Lie. Here we have people literally just making things up to suit their accusations against the POTUS and the MSM ignoring that they did so because, in the end, the MSM was COMPLICIT. Really pays off to be in control of the narrative when you're the one who screwed up, eh CNN?

    May 17, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  3. sonny chapman

    Is there a way to measure how much time Congressional Repubs. spend trying attacking Obama vs. trying to solve Immigration, Common Sense Gun Control, the Economy(Jobs, jobs, jobs).

    May 17, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  4. Data Driven

    Well, according to these figures, the only people paying attention are political junkies like Ticker posters. Sorry the Republican blitzkrieg isn't paying off in silver dollars for you, Media.

    The plaintive tone of the headline satisfies me greatly. "Are you watching? Please? Please?".

    Oh brother.

    May 17, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  5. Al-NY,NY

    the GOP and their legions of sheep are absolutely drooling over these "scandals" in the fantasy that Obama will be impeached and Hillary will not clean their clock in 2016.....both not gonna happen but let the sheep have their little "sparkly unicorn" moment. With each day that they do this and nothing else, they come closer to losing even more in 2014

    May 17, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. Jinx9to88

    Not as much as the GOP wish I was. No matter what they say about Clinton, she still has my vote. These GOPers have been trying the hardest to discredit everyone affiliated with this Admin from day one. I will never vote for the GOP again until they clean house with these crap of people the call representatives. They use this stuff to get away from the jobs they promised to create in 2010 and to get people minds of gun control which they know has the american people backing. GOP is gonna ride this as long as they can.

    May 17, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. Honestly? (Witch Hunters United)

    Paying attention, yes. Sickened by it, double yes. The republican party is laughable at best. And when they are no longer in charge of anything to do with government, right down to which way the toilet paper roll faces, they'll have no one to blame but themselves.

    May 17, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    Typical Gallup. Run talking points on a narrative it wants covered, spend a week or two splashing one misleading talking point after another on every network or media source willing to play the game, and then justifiy those actions with a poll "supporting" it's facts which are basically that it spent hundreds of hours spreading nothing but gossip.

    And the right wonders why Mr. Mittens is still unemployed. You'd think the GOP was still in 2012 election mode with the garbage it's been trying to pass as "real concerns for real Americans". I'm just sad to see the media once again fell for GOP fed talking points going nowhere GOPerville bs.

    May 17, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. Jinx9to88

    Obama should just move on, GOP is gonna throw this hissy fit for awhile. There is nothing Obama can do to please the GOP, they have been looking to get rid of him for the past 5 years.

    May 17, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. Brian

    I wish our government put this much time and effort investigating the Iraq invasion – WMD sham.

    Benghazi? I don't give a crap.

    May 17, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. sonny chapman

    What's the Guinness World Record for a Temper Tantrum ? Probably the Clinton Impeachment. This group of Repubs. might break that record.

    May 17, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  12. Dave

    The curent admin must be ecstatic to see so many loyal blind followers.

    May 17, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    Neither issues rank with the Watergate break-in during the Nixon administration. Republicans should not turn the investigations into a political witch hunt. Rep Issa is already looking like a partisan angry old white man with a score to settle.

    May 17, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. Bob Powers

    I think the most amazing thing is the over-reach by Conservatives to equate these incidents to Watergate. Obviously they have not read the accounts of Watergate or not old enough to have lived through it.

    May 17, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. carrotroot

    It gets tiring seeing the Republicans in Congress grandstand on every minor scandal.

    May 17, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  16. Jinx9to88

    The problem is that GOP are only interviewing the people they want on this issue. First off Gates said that it was impossible to get help to them in time and secondly GOP house cut funding for security to embassy overseas.

    May 17, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. Malory Archer

    Yes – yes I am. However, the only "controversies" are those contrived in the vivid imaginations of some far right individuals and the so-called "librul" media.

    May 17, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  18. Warren

    This is all going to come back and bite the Republicans in the you know what........

    May 17, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  19. Borderless

    Obama = Nixon
    It's a sad day for Democrats

    May 17, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  20. Mack

    Republican's have nothing to offer the average America except for these hyped up, "worse than watergate!!" scams

    May 17, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  21. Malory Archer


    Benghazi isn't a controversy anymore. The controversy is that the GOP/Teatrolls doctored emails and LITERALLY fabricated quotes, then fed them to the MSM, which then uncritically and without checking published it all as though it was absolutely true and to be believed without question.


    More like a reporter for ABC literally fabricated emails – cherry picking and cutting & pasting to create a damning narrative. In addition to serious jail time he should be blacklisted by any news organization that wishes to be considered credible.

    May 17, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  22. Jinx9to88

    @ Dave

    The curent admin must be ecstatic to see so many loyal blind followers.


    Blind followers? I bet the GOP followers were blind when Rumsfield and Cheney got us into in Iraqi that killed thousands more people. Typical hypocritical GOP conservative!!

    May 17, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  23. just sayin

    yeah, yeah nothing important going on in the fundamentally transformed america of barack obama. 4 dead americans due to incompetence at the highest levels, left to die without aid ever being sent. irs being used to target conservative donors and organizations. justice dept going after months of records from a news organization on a witch hunt.

    yeah, move along... nothing to see here but the total destruction of the bill of rights, our constitution and the trust of every diplomat and military man overseas or in harms way. none of it is a big deal to the leftists running the government or their supporters.

    May 17, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  24. ghostriter

    Maybe if they didn't start each investigation with "This will be Obama's Watergate"....

    The drama factor goes away after the 4th or 5th one. It's like "House votes to repeal Obamacare" or "Republicans hate Obama". After a while, they cease to be news or newsworthy.

    Republicans are just so angry. They are like rabid WWE fans. Which makes since because this is like the WWE. The funny thing is that after 5, they all go to the same restaurants and bars, kick back and probably laugh at you folks that actually fall for this stuff.

    May 17, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  25. Joan

    The GOP is playing to their base with these "scandals" and some in the media are giving them credibility. Actually it appears that much of the Republican outrage is now being looked at more objectively and their true motives are surfacing. About time. Since negative witch hunts and obstructionism didn't help the GOP during the last election, what makes them think it is going to make them more popular this time around? Wouldn't actually working together and doing something positive for the country be more helpful for their reputation? All I know its, the more Rand Paul, Michelle Bachmann, Darryl Issa Chavetz, Graham, McCain, Lee and others have the microphone the better it is for the Democrats.

    May 17, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
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