Poll: Americans say IRS the 'most important' controversy
May 30th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
5 years ago

Poll: Americans say IRS the 'most important' controversy

(CNN) - Of the three major controversies plaguing the Obama administration in recent weeks, the drama surrounding the Internal Revenue Service is the most pressing to U.S. voters in a new survey.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, 44% of registered voters say the IRS probe of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status is the most important. A little fewer than a quarter - 24% - say the Obama administration's handling of last year's terror attack against a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, is of the most concern, while 15% say the same about the Justice Department's seizure of phone records of Associated Press reporters.

But a large majority, 73% to 22%, say improving the economy is a higher priority than these three issues, according to the survey.

More than three-quarters of Americans say a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the IRS's targeting of conservative groups. Broken down by party, 63% of Democrats want such an independent probe, while 88% of Republicans say the same thing.

A plurality - 44% to 33% - say members of Congress who criticize the administration over the IRS controversy are raising "legitimate concerns." Current and former IRS employees have appeared for congressional hearings in recent weeks, with more scheduled to come.

"There is overwhelming bipartisan support for a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Voters apparently don't like the idea of Attorney General Eric Holder investigating the matter himself, perhaps because they don't exactly think highly of him."

According to the survey, only 23% of voters approve of the job Holder is doing, compared with 39% who disapprove.

Regarding Benghazi, a plurality - 44% to 32% - say the criticism from congressional Republicans over the administration's handling of the terror attack is "just politics." As for the seizure of journalists' phone records, 37% of voters say such action raises "legitimate concerns," while 24% disagree.

As for President Barack Obama, his job approval rating stands at 49% in a new CNN Poll of Polls, which averages the six most recent nonpartisan, live-operator national surveys of the president's approval rating; 46% said they disapprove. The polls were conducted in the past two weeks, after the IRS and AP controversies made national headlines. The president's rating stands little changed from the CNN Poll of Polls conducted over the whole month of April, which showed the approval-disapproval split at 49-47.

In the Quinnipiac poll, 1,419 registered voters were surveyed May 22-28, with a sampling error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: IRS • Justice Department • Libya • Polls
soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. are122

    Sarah (I plead the 5th) Ingram was rewarded with $103,390 in bonuses for exemplary performance. Sarah (I plead the 5th) Ingram will be in charge of IRS ObamaCare division. What's to worry about.

    May 30, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  2. blakenaustin

    All the Obama scandals are substantive and matter. They reveal compulsive lying, deception, cover-ups, and criminal activity. They should lead to the end of the political careers and potential prison time for Obama, Hillary Clinton, Holder, Napolitano, Rice, and Carney. It is time for some accountability.

    May 30, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    According to the general consensus amongst the majority of Americans, the United Nations, NATO and the world community, GWB and cabinet and their republican accomplices in congress shoud all be arrested and prosecuted for war crimes against humanity. The current Iraqi death toll from the U.S. 2003 illegitimate invasion of Iraq and sectarian civil war ensuing as a result of the invasion now stands at 1,455, 590 according to "Just Foreign Policy" Web Page.

    May 30, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  4. jpmichigan

    Obamas TRIFETA of scandals. Let us not forget, NLRB confirmations (shot down by Supreme Court), and HHs Sect. soliciting funds from corporations in industries HHS regulates, to be spent by nonprofit though politically entities to educate via propaganda, American people to enroll in Obamacare, there is no federal money to do this with the SEQUESTER that Obama and Jack Lew initiated and Harry Reid got it voted through the Senate. Who said chickens don't come home to roust?

    May 30, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  5. tepeters

    This is no surprise. Potential issues with taxes are a bigger concern to people because it hits closest to home more than the others but the economy and jobs are still the most important. There is also a sense that this is all partisan jabbing too so the GOP best be careful and not over reach themselves with unsubstantiated claims of wrong doing. And attention media people-take note you aren't as important as you think you are.

    May 30, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  6. aspblom

    It is not just Republicans who have concerns about the problems noted in the article. My liberal/Democratic/Green friends are disturbed.

    May 30, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  7. Aurora Chuck

    The last time I checked I thought these were scandals and not controversies? How convenient.

    May 30, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. blue max

    most of these tea party clowns would not qualify for a 501 c 4 because they are involved in political races. IRS was just doing their job.

    May 30, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  9. National Headlines?

    This story made "national headlines" on this site for a grand total of 20 minutes and then Holder's image was taken down. You guys are truly awful.

    May 30, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  10. bczu

    Yeah, we should all know why the liberal groups that were also targeted aren't being reported on. Like the only group that had its status revoked, a women's liberal group.

    May 30, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  11. emskadittle

    So, instead of trying to get rid of the President, congress needs to get back to work

    May 30, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  12. Linsey Walker

    Strangely leftist / liberals polled said "WHAT DOES IT MATTER"!
    Apparently nothing is important to them and doesn't matter – – UNLESS it might affect them.

    May 30, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  13. Nathan

    The IRS is a very powerful division inside our government. To use them to target any group is a major abuse of power. It goes against the entire belief structure of our country, they are funded by the people and they are supposed to support the people not pick sides in political battles and attack the people. Its disgusting really. The government is out of control and I hope this gets enough attention that some major changes take place. Firing one or two people just to satisfy the media isn't going to do anything.

    May 30, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  14. liberal disease

    unless your the family of the 4 dead in Benghazi who cannot get answers from Obama as to why their family members are dead!

    May 30, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. Grundoon

    Baloney! These groups are not social welfare organizations! They've contributed heavily to politicians and PACs. They should be scrutinized!

    May 30, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  16. jimkon

    GOP economic 3 point plan:
    Pay no taxes
    Have more babies
    Speak more English
    GOP 1 point Health Care Plan:
    Don't get sick.
    GOP fixing infrastructure plan:
    Fly a magic carpet.

    May 30, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  17. ted

    Anything to sweep TwinkieGate off the front page.

    May 30, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  18. Dee

    So Benghazi isn't as important? How about all of it is important. The U.S. needs a new government.

    May 30, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  19. DJ Reality

    All these scandals were born of republican ineptness.1). IRS Scandal: Under a republican president the IRS took it upon it self to rewrite the tax code and changed the 501 (c) (4) in 1959. Without congressional approval..2). The AP Scandal: Republicans in the house voted down the Shield Law in 2010. 3). Benghazi Scandal: A republican.house voted down raising embassy security funding in the 2012 budget.. Oh and Rossen. Fox News was informed:in 2010 of the investigation. Stop and think people. Just Stop and think. .

    May 30, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  20. John

    why is justice determined by polls? Democrats dont follow the news and certainly wont blame Obama for anything... As long as he keeps the spicket of free goodies flowing.

    May 30, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  21. tomfollery

    I knew that this flubber Obama would mess up on something eventually that would take him down...THIS IS HIS BIG ONE!!!

    May 30, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  22. Netmonger

    The IRS thing is not a scandal whatsoever. The IRS has the legal right to audit anyone or any organization. And thats all they did. Noone was robbed, slandered, or killed. No money was wasted. These groups were trying to evade paying taxes on money being funneled to the GOP presidential candidate. What they were doing was immorale, and illegal. What is the IRS supposed to do? Let them break the law because the majorority were conservative??!

    May 30, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  23. Saboth

    IMO, the wiretapping of our media and treating them like criminals is far more important than giving proper scrutiny to these so-called "nonprofit" organizations that are just funded by right-wing corporations.

    May 30, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  24. kevin

    I still get my welfare, food stamps and government cell phone ..... who cares what the IRS does ? Me and 47% of the country don't even pay federal taxes !!! And who cares about the government snooping around and tapping peoples phone lines ? And Benghazi ? I have never been there and don't ever plan on going. OBAMA/HOLDER 2016 !!!!!

    May 30, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  25. Bud

    Don't worry. The Republicans have plenty of time to hold hearings. Since they are not doing anything else. They will get to the bottom of this for sure.

    May 30, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
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