Poll: Americans say IRS the 'most important' controversy
May 30th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
2 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. pappy

    I think the only people that really care about these "scandals" is the press. There are more that are pissed about the lack of work that Congress does and the economy, that these petty little scandals and they are just a distraction from the real problems. Maybe we should hold hearings on Congress's lack of progress on anything. I guess they saved the TSA problem from sequester, but that was more for themselves to go on vacation again than helping the people that got them there survive. By the way, how many millions are these "hearings" costing us. Just another group of Senators finding a way to get away from dealing with the real problems we have.

    May 30, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  2. PeterD

    Only if IRS could look into Obama's Campaign Donations and you will be Shocked.

    May 30, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Sniffit

    "WHAT WOULD OBAMA DO IF HE WERE RE-ELECTED AND THEREFORE NO LONGER CONSTRAINED BY ANOTHER ELECTION CAMPAIGN ?

    Now we see the answers to that question ... coming at us fast and furious."
    ===

    Except these things occurred before he was re-elected. Keep ringing your tricycle bells tho...yo amuse me.

    May 30, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. Sniffit

    "all go away with the fair tax. it is progressive in that those under poverty pay nothing, but gradually more as you spend more."

    Clearly, you haven't the faintest clue about what makes a tax "regressive" or "progressive." Please, look up the answers and do some reading so you can understand that a flat sales tax is one of the most regressive taxes we levy.

    May 30, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  5. Fair is Fair

    Ahhhhhhh... the sweet smell of Holder's forthcoming "resignation"... it sustains me.

    May 30, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. Fair is Fair

    "Clearly, you haven't the faintest clue about what makes a tax "regressive" or "progressive." Please, look up the answers and do some reading so you can understand that a flat sales tax is one of the most regressive taxes we levy."
    --------
    Perhaps... but one could argue the wealthy purchase more and therefore pay more in sales tax.

    So tell me, counselor... would you consider the fact that FICA taxes are capped at a certain income level regressive?

    May 30, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  7. WhatIsTruth

    I am a bit confused about IRS scandal. I do not keep a close watch on what IRS did for tax exemption status is legally wrong or not. But, I saw somewhere under the current law IRS is NOT supposed to give tax exemption status to any "political" organization. And Tea party groups are in general political organizations. So, it should be legal to deny it. Same goes with any liberal political organizatrions. No tax exemption status should be given to them. Now specifically searching for Tea Party or Patriot key word could be an issue. But, then again, we all know a number of Tea party groups sprang up in recent years and most likely more Tea party groups sprang up than Liberal groups. So, all IRS needs to show that statistically much more Tea party groups applied for Tax exemption status than non-Tea party groups. And, in that case, it's not even a scandal legally. What I am missing here?

    May 30, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  8. wild man

    the irs is an organisation created by the political elite to take advantage of our country. they write loop hole laws for them selves and their buddies while using it as a tool to hold down the public. have you ever tried to read the tax code it's thousands of pages and they meet every year to add to it. on top of all that the same liars and tax cheats that write the tax code don't even abide by their own laws. democrats and republicans alike have contributed to these illegal and unconstitutional acts it's time we take back our government and teach these government pigs a lesson in justice. not violence we already have the power in the constitution

    May 30, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  9. GI Joe

    So – they have a job to do, and then they are hated for going after people who publicize that they do NOT want to pay taxes?

    May 30, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  10. Boomer in Mo

    It's really important that the American middle class has been funding all kinds of political campaigns because the IRS has been mishandling the 501(c)4 laws and regulations for years and years. Those organizations are not supposed to spend one cent on political activity, yet they have been allowed to spend up to 49 percent of their income on such activity. Read the law CNN. Sen. Nelson from Florida is going after the IRS for screwing up their own regulations, not just inappropriately handling the applications.

    May 30, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    Perhaps... but one could argue the wealthy purchase more and therefore pay more in sales tax.

    So tell me, counselor... would you consider the fact that FICA taxes are capped at a certain income level regressive?
    ----------------–
    You could argue the wealthy spend more, but you'd lose the argument. As a percentage of income, the wealthy spend the least.

    May 30, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. Lee

    Boomer...you give me hope that there are fair minded intelligent people out there...

    May 30, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  13. Herkimer Snerd

    IRS scandal is the most important in the polls but not to the families whose families were murdered in Benghazi.

    May 30, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  14. just sayin

    and now thanks to obama and the democrats, the irs will be able to target people because of their healthcare coverage. isn't that just wonderful. like we needed the irs in our life more than it already was. now they will be crawling all over our medical coverage. you want big democrat government america?! well, bend over and get ready for it because it is coming fast with obamacare.

    May 30, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  15. Pam from Iowa

    Really?? that is the most important??
    personally, I think ALL 501c's needs to be made illegal.
    Rove's Crossroads GPS is nothing but a money-launderer for illegal campaign funds.

    May 30, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  16. wade

    Well to Americans yes but the liberals did not take notice until they went after the press. the IRS affects us all so does the media. Benghazi is different because as a whole we do not see the connection with the incompetence of Obama and our lives like we do with the IRS.

    May 30, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. ST

    Are folks not tired of these non-stop talks (no longer news)? This tactic of buying time doesn't benefit anyone. There are major other issues pending to be tackled. Using much time and efforts by dealing with what happened in the past, and forgetting what people need at present and in future, doesn't make much sense.

    May 30, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. just askin

    Rudy NYC
    Fair is Fair wrote:
    Perhaps... but one could argue the wealthy purchase more and therefore pay more in sales tax.
    So tell me, counselor... would you consider the fact that FICA taxes are capped at a certain income level regressive?
    ------–
    You could argue the wealthy spend more, but you'd lose the argument. As a percentage of income, the wealthy spend the least.
    --

    stop playing with numbers and being deceitful. multi-millionaires spent more actual dollars. percentage of their income has nothing whatsoever to do with anything when it comes to how much they pay in taxes. all you lefties have is just smoke and mirror bs. it gets rather tiresome hearing the same old lies over and over in here.

    May 30, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Fair is Fair wrote:

    Perhaps... but one could argue the wealthy purchase more and therefore pay more in sales tax.

    So tell me, counselor... would you consider the fact that FICA taxes are capped at a certain income level regressive?
    ------–
    You could argue the wealthy spend more, but you'd lose the argument. As a percentage of income, the wealthy spend the least."
    ===

    Indeed. The attempt to one-up me exhibited a fundamental non-understanding of what "regressive" and "progressive" mean and how they are measured.

    May 30, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  20. Name lynn

    The president an no oneelse didn know what the Irs was during, what is wrong with the people obama is good money not bad money. what about the bushes an rommey money when it comes to the irs an what about your money people please.

    May 30, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC

    just askin wrote:

    "You could argue the wealthy spend more, but you'd lose the argument. As a percentage of income, the wealthy spend the least."

    stop playing with numbers and being deceitful. multi-millionaires spent more actual dollars. percentage of their income has nothing whatsoever to do with anything when it comes to how much they pay in taxes. all you lefties have is just smoke and mirror bs. it gets rather tiresome hearing the same old lies over and over in here.
    ------------------–
    Investing is not spending. The argument also makes the naive assumption that ALL of their spending will be within US borders.

    May 30, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  22. truth hurts but reality bites

    Sniffit
    what "regressive" and "progressive" mean and how they are measured.
    --

    We know the meaning very well.

    Regressive is when people who pay no taxes are taxed a little, or when Democrat supporters are taxed even a little.

    Progressive is when people who already pay all the taxes are taxed even more, or when non-Democrat supporters are taxed becuase paying all the bills just isn't enough.

    May 30, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  23. Concerned

    It is very odd that The one was transferred to be in charge of Obama care, then the new Department chief took over shortly before this happens! Was it the plan all along? The facts don't look good for the Dem's in this issue? It's known that the politicians use there office to attempt to better the standing of there party but somewhere there must be a lone drawn! The people are getting fair representation because of this.

    I believe that its time for Independent persons to take office and show the party's that For the People by the People is the ground stone to our country!

    May 30, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  24. just askin

    Rudy NYC
    just askin wrote:
    "You could argue the wealthy spend more, but you'd lose the argument. As a percentage of income, the wealthy spend the least."
    --
    stop playing with numbers and being deceitful. multi-millionaires spent more actual dollars. percentage of their income has nothing whatsoever to do with anything when it comes to how much they pay in taxes. all you lefties have is just smoke and mirror bs. it gets rather tiresome hearing the same old lies over and over in here.
    ------–
    Investing is not spending. The argument also makes the naive assumption that ALL of their spending will be within US borders.
    --

    investing creates income which is taxed. again, more money for government that the non-millionaires do not contribute.

    no assumptions are made about where their money is spent. but only a clueless dolt would think millionaires with several homes in the usa do not spend money here on many many things. or are you to have us believe they are buying everything overseas and having it all shipped back here? again, you are full of nothing but unproven and totally ridiculous bs.

    May 30, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  25. Loyalright

    I am surprised that there is so much bipartisan in the survey for support of a special prosecutor. If we could get the same bipartisan cooperation from Congress, this country could make some progress.

    May 30, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
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