CNN Poll: Tea party gets boost from IRS controversy
May 20th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
5 years ago

CNN Poll: Tea party gets boost from IRS controversy

Washington (CNN) - As a major tea party group plans protests Tuesday at Internal Revenue Service offices across the country, a new national poll indicates that the IRS controversy has given the four-year-old movement a shot in the arm.

The week-and-a-half-old controversy, which involves the IRS targeting of tea party and other conservative groups which were seeking tax exempt status, has dominated headlines and put the White House on the defensive.

And according to a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday, it's also boosted the favorable rating for the tea party movement. Thirty-seven percent of people questioned said they see the tea party in a favorable light, up nine percentage points from CNN's March poll. But a plurality still view the movement unfavorably.

"Politically, the group that may have benefitted the most from last week's news is the tea party movement, which may be getting something akin to a 'sympathy vote' for being targeted by the highly unpopular IRS," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The 37% favorable rating for tea party is just one point shy of their all-time high in CNN polling, which they reached twice in 2010, during the heyday of the movement.

But according to the new poll, 45% of the public continues to hold an unfavorable view of the tea party, with just over one in ten saying they don't have an opinion. The 45% unfavorable rating for the tea party is down five points from a CNN survey from last November.

The IRS scandal is breathing new life into the tea party movement, says Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, a grassroots organization which has been a key player in the rise of the movement.

"You've seen a lot more energy and judging from the activity on the social networks, people are pissed off about this," Kibbe recently told CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta.

Niger Innis of agrees.

"Does this pump additional fuel into our tank? Yes it does," said Innis last Thursday on Capitol Hill at a tea party news conference on the IRS controversy that drew movement leaders and activists from across the country. At the event, tea party groups shared their stories of what they described as years of harassment from the IRS over their attempts to receive tax exempt status.

Tuesday, the Tea Party Patriots, one of the movement's largest national groups, plans protests at IRS offices across the country.

The tea party, an anti-big government movement, was formed in early 2009, in opposition to both the Wall Street bailouts put in place by outgoing President George W. Bush and the federal stimulus plan being pushed by incoming President Barack Obama.

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

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Harvey Tabasky

    Wait until the Tea Party finds out Rand Paul is a millionaire just like Romney. Well, not exactly, he's only worth a million right now, not 200. Just wait until Daddy drops, then he'll be worth more. He's a monument to the saying 'How can someone with this much intelligence be such an idiot'.

    May 20, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  2. e.tibbitts

    Sniffit, your name ,your tone and your comments all indicate somebody who needs to be helped out in life. I want you to know that I for one understand your fear ....Its not easy getting through life without the support of a check once a month. People like those involved with the Tea Party would expect you to get a job and that can be scary for somebody without people or self monitoring skills.

    May 20, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  3. Donkey Party

    You Teabaggers are a delusional bunch. Thanks for the comic relief though. By the way, "REAL Americans" don't agree with you whack jobs, real Americans aren't ignorant, illiterate right-wing racists.

    May 20, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. JDalco

    well with the way the media miss-represent the TEA party I am surprised that many folks like it. I am sure CNN and other will work hard to get more lies out there about it and get those numbers back down. . .

    May 20, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. liberal disease

    the IRS was doing it's job? where do you live Moscow?

    May 20, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. StopTheMadness

    The Tea party never got tread on. Maybe you nit wits should actually read the articles about the IRS before you act like you know what you are talking about. I love how silly you ignorant people are.

    TEA PARTY Home of the eternally stupid land of the ignorant. WOOT!

    That way when all the idgits die off from starvation and such the rest of us can go on living a normal life. I knew you guys were mentally deficient, but man I love some of the comments here.

    May 20, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. Josh

    I thought conservatives were always complaining about people playing victims. This little bump sure has them whining. Perhaps they should look closer at the history of real victims of stereotypes and injustices that have occured to groups in this country. This is a flop. Good show. The best thing that can come out of this are clearly defined protocols in approaching with "tax exempt" groups.

    May 20, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  8. rino

    This is a travesty and Tea party must react and unite. Next year for 2014 , we need to put forward candidate which are right of Paul, hard but I am sure Tea Party can do it. Unite and put forward more candidate like Jackson and let take 2014 !

    May 20, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. CB FL

    I hope you do keep the house and win the senate. Then come 2016 it will be many years before the repugs will be the majority again.

    May 20, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. U.S. Citizen

    Here we go again. The Statist are deriding our freedom and rights.

    May 20, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. Donkey Party

    Tea Parties are for aristocratic Brits, or for little girls, take your pick. Just sayin'.

    May 20, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  12. cog in the wheel

    I feel there should be NO tax-exempt status for groups associated with either the Tea Party or liberal groups (such as or similar.) If the IRS was flooded with requests from Tea for tax-exempt status, them I am glad they thoroughly vetted them.

    What would the right-winger's response be if the IRS was flooded with requests for tax-exempt status from ACORN affiliated groups?

    May 20, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Polar Bear

    Hmm. I thought CNN had made the decision to "back page" this. Probably last gasps of any real reporting on the issue, no? I'm sure Obama appreciates CNN's help.

    May 20, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  14. Morgan King

    Keeping the ignorant fringe as the prominent public voice and face of the Republican party does them no favors – until they are capable of shedding the Tea Party's regressive social platform from the Conservative economic platform, Republicans will continue their journey into obsolescence. The best best play for Democrats here is to simply give them enough rope to hang themselves.

    May 20, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. Me


    Sniffit, first off please make a point without calling anyone names...Second, your point makes no sense and just bashes the other party because you disagree with them. What I also find interesting is that you forget to mention had this happened under President Bush or a Republican president, Democrats would be all over this...

    That is not possible for Sniffit or many Dems, that is all they have is name calling!!!

    May 20, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. TreeTopFlyer

    The tea party people (and the republicans) need to remember that it's the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, not the United Republicans of America that should be their primary concern. Refusing to work WITH the rest of the country is treasonous as far as I'm concerned. Personally, I'd rather the tea party become their own political party and then I could consider going back to the Republican party where I had been for the last 40 years. The current philosophy of "Just say No to anything" doesn't help any Americans and only hurts the Republican party.

    May 20, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. wade

    Now we learn the the White House council the PRESIDENTS LAYER knew about the IRS scandals WEEKS before and they expect us the American people to believe that a story this BIG was never told to the Chief of staff and the president! Now of course CNN does not report the proof of Obama's lies as it would be news and hurt Obama two things CNN is opposed to doing.

    May 20, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. Jackson


    Hey Sniffit, how did the last special election go for you lefties???? LOL That is just the beginning, wait till 2014 and 2016!!! TRUE American people are sick of the BS!!!


    "True American people"?

    Excuse me, but, last time I checked, the Tea Party did not own the patent on "true american", did not own the copyright on "true american" and did not own the trademark on "true american".

    So kindly cease and desist from trying to claim who does and does not get to be a "true american". After all, isn't America about having the freedom to believe what you choose to? By that logic, anyone, like you, who tries to define "true american" in such a narrow, self-serving way, is the complete opposite of what America *really* is.


    May 20, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  19. Al

    So remember if you want to see an America that holds it's people responsible for themselves then you'll be discriminated against and have the power of the IRS put on you. This is another three letter organization that will continue to discriminate against real freedom.

    May 20, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. Doc1

    Won't help much. Us sane people to still view your movement as crazed.

    May 20, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  21. Independent


    That's a bunch of bogus polling. Its an anti-tax, anti-American group and just because the IRS was doing its job does not mean the group's poll numbering is going up. If that were the truth, then it would be a national alert for all that is decent in this country. I guess if you're intent is in polling moronic people, you're going to get moronic answers like "We love militias! We love the KKK! We love the Tea Party!"

    Dems like you are the reason MANY call your party a JOKE!! The IRS even ADMITTED to doing what they are acused of and you still say "they were just doing their jobs". Americans will not forget what you all keep saying, just wait till the tables are turned!!! When laws are broken to discredit/bring down your party, don't come crying!!

    May 20, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. bartonizer

    Ah the Tea Party. Simultaneously the victim and the bully. They talk all tough about arming themselves to the gills and preach revolution, and then wonder why people would suspect them of being dangerous. They talk about being anti-tax, and then wonder why they're being questioned by the IRS. They talk about being all about responsibility, but do anything they can to find loopholes, and always give free rides to corporations. They talk about being patriots, but despise any Americans that don't look like Archie Bunker. They illustrate the ugly death throes of the modern Republican Party, and will be remembered as nasty smudges in our nation's history.

    May 20, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. Jeb2016- We owe the Bushes another shot at bringing the country down!

    Sniffit, your name ,your tone and your comments all indicate somebody who needs to be helped out in life. I want you to know that I for one understand your fear ....Its not easy getting through life without the support of a check once a month. People like those involved with the Tea Party would expect you to get a job and that can be scary for somebody without people or self monitoring skills.

    @ People like those in the Teaparty for the most part want government to keep their hands off their socual security checks.

    May 20, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    "TRUE American people are sick of the BS!!!"

    Yeah. We're kind of sick of multi-named posters repeating the same BS as well.

    May 20, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  25. Joe


    Phoney baloney controversy drummed up the the Teabag PR machine. A little bit of fact, a lot of lies and made up stories, and people who are just plain gullible...who gobble up all the crap that is fed them....they are bent on wrecking the country rather than seeing anybody else get ahead. Bent on keeping feebleminded ideas in the mainstream, bent on just doing everything possible to have the country go back to the 1950's in combination with the 1800's.

    Sounds like the democratic party to me! Good description of them, I am going to have to use that sometime.

    May 20, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
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