May 19th, 2013
08:57 AM ET
1 year ago

CNN Poll: Controversies hurting Obama? Has GOP overreacted?

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama comes out of what was arguably the worst week of his presidency with his approval rating holding steady, according to a new national poll.

But a CNN/ORC International survey released Sunday morning also indicates that congressional Republicans are not overplaying their hand when it comes to their reaction to the three controversies that have consumed the nation's capital over the past week and a half. And the poll finds that a majority of Americans take all three issues seriously.

According to the survey, which was conducted Friday and Saturday, 53% of Americans say they approve of the job the president is doing, with 45% saying they disapprove. The president's approval rating was at 51% in CNN's last poll, which was conducted in early April.

"That two-point difference is well within the poll's sampling error, so it is a mistake to characterize it as a gain for the president," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Nonetheless, an approval rating that has not dropped and remains over 50% will probably be taken as good news by Democrats after the events of the last week."

The CNN poll is in-line with Gallup, which also indicated a very slight rise in Obama's approval rating over the same time period. And Gallup's daily tracking poll also indicated a slight upward movement of Obama's approval rating over the past week. But as with the CNN poll, it was within that survey's sampling error.

More than seven in 10 in the CNN poll say that the targeting by the Internal Revenue Service of tea party and other conservative groups that were applying for tax exempt status was unacceptable. While the White House and both parties in Congress are criticizing the IRS actions, congressional Republicans are depicting the controversy as a case of the federal government gone wild.

But more than six in 10 say that the president's statements about the IRS scandal are completely or mostly true, with 35% not agreeing with Obama's characterizations. And 55% say that IRS acted on its own, with 37% saying that White House ordered the IRS to target tea party and other conservative groups.

Only 42% of the public is satisfied with how the Obama administration has handled the September attack in Benghazi, Libya, which left the U.S ambassador to that country and three other Americans dead. Fifty-three percent say they are dissatisfied. But those numbers are virtually unchanged from November.

Republicans have ripped the administration for not providing adequate security for the Benghazi mission, botching the response to it, and misleading the public for political gain with the attack coming less than two months before last November's presidential election.

According to the poll, 44% say statements made by the Obama administration soon after the attack were an attempt to intentionally mislead the public. Half of those questioned say those statements reflected what the Obama administration believed, at the time, had occurred.

But 59% now say that the U.S government could have prevented the attack in Benghazi, up 11 points from last November. And only 37% say that congressional Republicans are overreacting in their handling of the matter, with 59% saying they've reacted appropriately.

It's the same story on the IRS controversy, with 54% saying the GOP in Congress has not overplayed its hand.

The White House has also been criticized by Congress for the Justice Department's secret collection of phone records from the Associated Press as part of a government investigation into classified leaks. According to the poll, 52% say the Justice Department's actions were unacceptable, with 43% saying they disagree.

Americans appear to be taking all three controversies very seriously, with 55% saying the IRS and Benghazi matters are very important to the nation and 53% saying the same thing about the AP case.

"More Republicans than Democrats or Independents say these three issues are very important to the nation, but even among Democrats, nearly half say the matters are very serious," Holland adds.

Are Americans’ trust in the government shaken?

Only 43% say they have a great deal or some confidence in the people who run the federal government. But 56% say they have a great deal or some confidence in the system of government.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International between May 17-18, with 923 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

– CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: CNN/ORC International poll • IRS • Libya • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (1,004 Responses)
  1. Jen L

    Sorry, Republicans, I know that you THINK that we're stupid but we aren't. Anyone who claims that this administration is fascist is delusional. Anyone who claims that it is more corrupt than the Bush administration defines corrupt as "not as willing to be corrupted as my favorite people." Anyone who thinks that Benghazi is something other than trumped up conspiracy nonsense is buying spin rather than reality.

    You're projecting.

    May 19, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  2. irememberallthelies

    I have trouble believing obama didnt know about the IRS simpky because he said many times that 501c-e applicants were the scum of the country. Turns out those groups the IRS messed with fall in that category. He did anything he could to win including the IRS. Im sure he was informed. Also with benghazi he was running on the fact he ended terrorism. So how bad would it look if a terrorist attack happened then. I said right after it happened he was lying and only after he won the truth would come out. Thats exactly what happened. He also did nothing since that office knew about the US arming al qeada to overthrow the leadership there and in syria. Dead men cant talk about what happened now can they. The guy who made the video is still in custody and him blaming that caused more violence. Why are we still holding the guy wjo made the video. He is protected by the 1st amendment. Oh thats right the govt doesnt want us to have one. Obama has also been the worst on whistle blowers which he is not supposed to be. Some habe been jailed and careerd ruined by mr obama because he doesnt want his wrong doings coming out. Now the whistleblowers are being threatened by govt officiails and im sure that order comes from the top. Since he hates whistleblowers he decided to tap the AP's phones which is illegal and shows he will target the press so only his propoganda gets out. The reason they want the AP's sources is to silence them and scare others before something even more damning comes out. He rolled out his big govt campaign and anti 2nd amendment shortly after the election. So he lied and snowed a lot of voters who now wonder why they voted for him in the 1st place. Good luck folks. They have new documents about about reeducation camps for people who dont like or question the govt. Google it, you can download and read the pdf. When he declares martial law when obamacare bankrupts the country I wouldnt run to fema for help, if you do you will see what internment camps look like.

    May 19, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  3. Salva Veritate

    His rating won't stay up for long. And all you people defending his "police state" wholly Unconstitutional actions should be ashamed. When someone is wrong, they are wrong. It doesn't matter what stripe of politics they subscribe to.

    May 19, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  4. Sick of illinois politicians

    This is proof that the American people would rather have false safety a poor economy, and don't respect intellect or success. We would rather have some we think is cool

    May 19, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  5. DoNotWorry

    This summarizes how I feel about what is going on: "While the White House and both parties in Congress are criticizing the IRS actions, congressional Republicans are depicting the controversy as a case of the federal government gone wild." Typical Republican "get Obama" ad nauseum. Republicans have lost all respect from me by acting out endlessly and making bizarre statements. Signed, former Republican.

    May 19, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  6. The Truth

    I don't get it. When Bin Laden was killed, the GOP was all over it saying that Obama shouldn't take credit for it because he didn't actually do it. He just made the decision to go after him. Now, with Benghazi, the GOP is saying that Obama should take full responsibility. Hmmmm. Can't have it both ways.

    May 19, 2013 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  7. Eddie

    The 47%will stand by their man no matter what, just so long as the EBT cards keep working and the benefits keep coming.

    May 19, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  8. realoldguy

    No one sucks up to wealth and power like Republicans. The way they kick down too makes them typical of assistant managers. But their contempt for facts, let alone science, will always make them vulnerable.

    May 19, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  9. NOVA703

    The Republicans are trying so hard to make a big deal about these issues but, in fact, they are small issues. Example 1. Four people died in Benghazi. More than 600 died in embassies when Bush was president. Where was the outrage then? Example 2. Issa knew about the IRS deal before Obama. He didn't do anything about it when he first found out. Now he wants an investigation. Example 3. The news source "scandal" isn't a scandal. It's called protecting the security of our great country. Grow up Republicans! Offer some good candidates and act like you want to govern, not snivel!

    May 19, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  10. Mike

    Enough of the Benghazi witch hunt .... while it is certainly tragic that 4 people lost their lives and there was probably some kind of cover up, if the GOP (FoxNews) wants to continue to pursue this story, shouldn't they also take another look at the Iraq cover ups that led to app. 4500 American deaths. ..... could you imagine if Obama was responsible for Iraq instead of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, ?

    May 19, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  11. Keyser

    Wow. With the Conservative knobs really giving it to Obama...there's a chance he may not be re-elected. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

    May 19, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  12. Ed

    The GOP are only making him look good and hurting themselves. They are too pushy on all the issues they are presenting making it obvious that they are intentionally out to get Obama and his administration. They do it to themselves.

    May 19, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  13. kit8

    Republican cry wolf for everything. It is very hard to take them seriously even when there maybe a wolf.

    May 19, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  14. NWCommenter

    Impeachment???... How does this apply when you consider the FACT that the Iraq war, brought on by George W. Bush, was based on FAULTY INTELLIGENCE?!?!?!!?... WHERE THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS DIED!!!!!

    May 19, 2013 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  15. moonraker

    No one cares about any of these issues – suck it republicans.

    May 19, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  16. Joe

    This is like Watergate all over again with the exception that American lives were lost... Time to roll up sleeves, take out the trash and incarcerate the law breakers.

    May 19, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  17. Jason

    Throw as much crap on a wall and hope it sticks, right GOP?

    May 19, 2013 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  18. matt

    Just shows that CNN is the loud mouth of the left bent on skewing the true results of polls. Majority has a negative feeling of Obama "the great pretender". The real polls show Obama is below 50% in the approval rating. CNN be real and tell the truth!

    May 19, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  19. Pat

    Republicans have never been one to take defeat. Instead of accepting the lose, they continue to show what poor loosers they are. People don't take kindly to people who intentionally try to bring others down from jealously.

    May 19, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  20. jctt

    Seriously the president had the worst weeks ever, and he is near 53%, come on, not even Obama believers wouldn't believe that. Even the hard core leftist are realizing what Obama is really made of. Sorry CNN better luck next time, it was a nice try though. :)

    May 19, 2013 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  21. Pete Ernst

    Maybe if the GOP had any credibility the American people would get more worked up. I'm an independent that pretty much rides the middle, but I find myself leaning more and more left the older I get. The rhetoric from the right has gotten so pathetic and archaic that I just can't believe they take themselves seriously. They want the people of this country to follow them to corporate bliss, yet they can't even figure out what they want, and have to strong arm their constituents into voting the party line half the time. America is run by corporations plain and simple, and ALL politicians are paid for by the corporations. Until that ends, we will continue down the rosy path to self destruction.

    May 19, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  22. Brenda

    You are not yourself-someone is controlling you-you have no voiceof your own.you are a followers.

    May 19, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  23. dc

    It all depends on who was polled...... Anybody you know? Didn't think so..... Kinda like the gun registration poll......

    May 19, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  24. Brenda

    go to the internet and find the truth

    May 19, 2013 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  25. Chaz

    These polls are not being taken in my neighborhood. Obama approval is quietly held by a small minority, and everyone else wants to see him impeached.

    May 19, 2013 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
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