CNN Poll: Did White House order IRS targeting?
June 18th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: Did White House order IRS targeting?

Updated 8:01 a.m. ET, Tuesday, 6/18

Washington (CNN) – A growing number of Americans believe that senior White House officials ordered the Internal Revenue Service to target conservative political groups, according to a new national poll.

And a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday morning also indicates that a majority of the public says the controversy, which involves increased IRS scrutiny of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, is very important to the nation.

Republicans argue that the Obama administration used the IRS to intimidate and harass political opponents. Democrats say poor management at the tax agency, rather than political bias, is to blame. Congressional sources on both sides say that interviews with IRS workers so far have found no evidence of political dealings by the White House. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, touting an independent IRS inspector general report, has said the scrutiny appears to have originated with "IRS officials in Cincinnati," where the agency's tax exempt division is centered.

GOP tries to keep focus on IRS targeting scandal

Last month only 37% of the public thought that the IRS controversy led to the White House, with 55% saying that agency officials acted on their own without direct orders from Washington. Now the number who say the White House directed that IRS program has increased 10 points, to 47%, virtually the same as the 49% who believe the IRS agents acted on their own.

"Younger Americans are much less likely than older Americans to believe in White House involvement, and there is, not surprisingly, a partisan divide as well," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But the Obama administration may be losing independents on this matter. In May, only 36% felt the White House ordered the IRS to target conservative groups; now that number has crossed the 50% threshold."

Fifty-one percent of those questioned said the IRS controversy is a very important issue to the nation, compared to 55% who felt that way in May. In the past week and a half, the IRS story has been put a bit on the backburner, as the controversy over the federal government's massive surveillance program has dominated the spotlight.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International June 11-13, with 1,014 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall 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 • White House
soundoff (726 Responses)
  1. Godot

    Did sumbody say "cover up"?

    June 18, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  2. jan

    So, I would think that this influenced the 2012 election and Obama;s win for the presidency – did the obama win by supresssing conservative votes – ?

    June 18, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  3. Beauceron

    It is absurd that only 47% of the citizenry believe that. If it was not the White House, it was the Democratic party machine, which is one and the same.

    CNN and other mainstream "news" outlets (quotes to show they're conscerned with everything but actual news reporting) have done everything they can to protect their man, Obama, but this is one of the most egregious acts of government abuse I can remember.

    June 18, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  4. DJ Reality

    The relentless GOP and Fox News attack is working and people are getting sucked in.

    June 18, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  5. Barry Soetoro

    No surprise that the young clueless low information voters who don't even know the name of the VP or their local Congressional rep are also the ones less likely to believe in WH involvement. These sheep are Obama's core constituency.

    June 18, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  6. Sandy

    You take a poll and ask whether the White House ordered targeting? Why not just tell the people what the investigation found? THE WHITE HOUSE DID NOT DO THE TARGETING! This is what's wrong with journalism and reporting. They don't report the FACTS, just people's opinions.

    June 18, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  7. silvertop

    I am surprised that CNN chose to do the survey and by the result.
    I don't think that there will be smoking gun linking the president himself ordering the targeting. He does not have to. He had chosen people to surround himself who know what he wants and who are influential and consequential in what they do, e.g. Valerie Jarett, his re-election team, Organizing for America, Organizing for Action. It is highly probable that there is some connection between these people and the 158 visits the IRS commissioner Shulmann made to the WH.

    June 18, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  8. Richard in Houston

    When you shout conspiracy over and over long enough about everything even though each one has been proven wrong people will start to believe. It makes me want call shenanigans on every time a conspiacy is claimed.

    June 18, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  9. BigD

    Land line junk poll. Anyone under 60?

    June 18, 2013 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  10. Bryan V.

    Why do you approach the story as Republicans say this and Democrats say that? You don't have to be of any political party to recognize logic and patterns of behavior and to make reasonable assumptions as to the cause or purpose of those actions.

    What is surprising is that the younger adults have integrity enough to accept truth when they see it even though some of them had to admit they were at least wring in some respects about the current administration. What is not really surprising from the poll results is that older adults are more prideful and stubborn to accept the truth as is comes out.

    Word of advice: It doesn't matter how old you are, never get to comfortable with your own understanding of things. In the end, God will make us all look like fools. Some more than others however so deal with the truth now.

    June 18, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  11. gerry

    This scandal was promoted and cheered on by the White House in public. Look at all the statements from the anointed one disparaging anyone who disagrees with his policies. His people knew what to do. They did not need to be told.

    June 18, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  12. Bob

    Does anyone actually believe that the greatest politician we've ever had as a ruler, I mean president, did not have anything to do with this? Stop lying to yourself... 330+ meetings at the white house between white house and IRS officials. Targeting Tea Party connected groups, which Obama himself called the greatest danger to our democracy. What a joke... He is the greatest danger to our Republic, the Tea Party is trying to save it. America is full of ignorant people ushering in their own demise with their unwaivering support of Obama.

    June 18, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  13. Robert W

    Of course career civil servants are not likely to break the law without someone at least advising it in some manner. Keep in mind these folks in the field office had nothing to gain here. It's not like they were getting some benefit out of it.

    So we should believe that heretofore honest civil servants will risk their careers by targeting the President's enemies without so much as a tip off from higher ups. C'mon that's a bit tough to swallow. No, there will not be an e-mail from POTUS or is chief of staff saying do this or that. But that they got direction from people involved in the President's political arm seems irrefutable.

    June 18, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  14. Michael

    CNN! That's the rigged poll! Of course Obama directed the whole thing! Stephanie Cutter needs a subpoena!!

    June 18, 2013 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  15. xsnake

    Chicago is the living model for His vision of the New World Order.......do you miss God yet?

    June 18, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  16. SRW

    Corruption starts at the top and oozes into every Cabinet member and every agency in this Adinistration The media covers. A Dem raced to the microphones and announced the investigation has been concluded. The stench in this Adm. has to be overwhelming, but guess DC does not notice as they all are covered. Wink WInk Nudge Nudge. A mistake was made , don't worry we are looking into it. Another 500Billion should take care of it.

    June 18, 2013 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  17. Jack Schitt

    How much you want to bet CNN over sampled democrats for this poll ?

    June 18, 2013 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  18. TXBH

    "I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations, and I have not provided false information to this or any congressional committee,".
    "Because I am asserting my right not to testify, I know that some people will assume that I have done something wrong. I have not,"
    Lois Lerner, head of the IRS Tax Exempt Uni,t said to Congress as she pleaded the 5th right afterwards......and there, folks, is your tie to Obama. The loose end is tied and she'll go to prison to protect him, if she has to.

    June 18, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  19. Guest

    Everybody knows the obama admin has had a nonstop assault on everybody who believes differently.

    June 18, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  20. jboh

    I still haven't seen any coverage about the fact that the IRS official who started the investigation(Ms. 5th) is a Bush appointee. Also, no mention that the IRS chief when videos were made is also a Bush appointee. You want conspiracy theories? How's this, the Bush admin. left saboteurs behind.

    June 18, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  21. Chris

    I have to be honest what I find most troubling is the fact the media is focusing on whether these conservative grous were in fact breaking the law as it pertains to taxiation In other words, were they involved in political actions which void their tax exempt status. Why is the media not asking that question as that is the crux of the issue. By the way, this so called "targeting", which is truly a misnomer, began under the last administration. THe bottom line and the only germain argument is did thesde groupd violate the rules – PERIOD.

    June 18, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  22. Brian in DC

    Common sense dictates that it was directed from someone within the WH. It may not have been Obama himself but it was definitely a top guy. Imo, most likely it was Axelrod or another high-level operations person.

    June 18, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  23. Texas Freedom

    We have filthy criminals running this country . . . and you know it.

    June 18, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  24. Hmm

    44 months of Peeping-bho's ObamaGate to go...counting down...(:-\)

    June 18, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  25. enuff

    I guess Issa's plan is working. Insert evil laugh.

    June 18, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
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