CNN Poll: Did White House order IRS targeting?
June 18th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
1 year 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. Craig in Pa.

    Another conclusive survey from CNN where 1014 people polled speaks for the nation!

    June 18, 2013 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  2. downwithnazis

    A poll? This is your headline? Many people believe that Universal Health Care is bad. Many believe that the war in Iraq was a good thing. Many believe there are witches and vampires. Criminy, is this a leading headline?

    June 18, 2013 06:28 am at 6:28 am |
  3. swivelhead

    how is 47% the majority?

    June 18, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  4. ghostdansing

    So the Republican propaganda is working?

    June 18, 2013 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  5. Linda

    Who, as a thinking adult would not understand the White House was behind it?

    June 18, 2013 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  6. Ferryman

    So, is it "nearly half" or a "majority"?

    June 18, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  7. Connie

    You can take the boy out of the hood but you can't take the hood out of the boy. Of course the WH was involved.

    June 18, 2013 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  8. onlyfacts

    Yes, the IRS targeted hundreds of groups who where possibly lieing on their applications so they would not have to pay taxes. That's what the IRS does. They look for applications that seem questionable and they investigate. They don't wait for a dictator to force them to do this and they (many Republicans) don't do this in fear of "the regime". If some of you would turn off Fox "news" and do a little thinking of your own these poll numbers might reflect a little intelligence in this country.

    June 18, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  9. Walter

    When even CNN polls are showing Americans think Obama was involved, you know things are going bad for Barry.

    June 18, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  10. BO

    Wow my approval is less than Bush.

    June 18, 2013 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  11. Jerry

    Young people have been coddled and spoon fed and never had to really work for what they get and that's why they are so gullible about these things. This President is good at getting them on his side because he gives them so much without them having to really put much into it.

    June 18, 2013 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  12. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    I certainly do not believe the implication that the President ordered IRS targeting of conservatives. Any supporter of this administration's goals would generate his own strategies to achieve progress. Some strategies might be improper.

    June 18, 2013 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  13. MightyMoo

    Who cares what people think, what are the actual facts of what happened? I'd rather see those then what people "think" happened.

    June 18, 2013 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  14. Jerry

    People are starting to realize this President is not the Saint they thought he was. He's as corrupt as the rest of the politicians.

    June 18, 2013 06:38 am at 6:38 am |
  15. D

    Can someone tell me how this is front page news? What a majority of people think about something that happened rather than what actually happened? I am so over the mainstream media.

    June 18, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  16. Jerry

    His give away programs are going to bankrupt this country and make us a third world nation.

    June 18, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  17. timidlady

    I am opposed to the tea party, any ways. They "teaed" when I "mormoned". That felt like they were poking fun of me. I miss my tea and all that. Yes, I know about the Boston Tea Party. I guess that's why Mormons rock. They didn't steal throwing it in the water. They put it down forever. I haven't filed taxes in several years. The IRS owed me not me owed them. Never a call, audit, complaint. I guess they know who owes who. I'm paid into the rebulican party even! Go figure.

    June 18, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  18. Matthew

    You want tax exemptions for your political group that doesn't have to disclose its donors? You should be subject to additional scrutiny. This is more fallout from Citizens United and it shouldn't be the IRS' job to figure out whether you are a political organization or a social group. Get rid of the exemption entirely and the problem goes away.

    June 18, 2013 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  19. suur kurat

    Only the most naive people would believe that top Obama officials weren't the instigators of the IRS abuse of power.

    June 18, 2013 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  20. Bob

    Not one shred of evidence has been revealed that there is a connection between administration and I.R.S. discrimination. I.R.S. could have claimed that they were vetting this party because of lack of party organization, anti tax view, and anti government agenda, I would have believed I.R.S. was doing right thing. There was a million reasons to investigate tea party, but just because they are conservatives is not one of them.
    Now the first decent president in 8 years is going to take fall so we can go back to starting costly wars and further destroying economy.

    June 18, 2013 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  21. WALMARTRAMEN

    Good for the IRS! Those Tea Party types are sneaky they hide their stuff! They are greedy, sneaky. What they where saying at their tea party's, stuff like going on strike & not paying any taxes, get rid of Social security, cut funding for the schools, poor, without anyone knowing it. They call their state governor all the time wanting their way like a kid wanting candy! Only leading to something like a school budget cut without anyone knowing why their schools got cut! Then you have ALEC, oh the Tea Party likes that with workers not knowing why they have not got a raise. Messing with the working mans pay???? That says it all the IRS needs to go after the Tea Party, because the Party messes with everyone's pay & life!

    June 18, 2013 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  22. I Am God

    Of course they would. The Tea Party is desperate in trying to pin Obama as some dictator.

    June 18, 2013 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  23. gypsytoo

    these growing numbers of people that believe this – do they have any facts? or are they basing their opinion on the news – which too many times is just noise. just wondering.

    June 18, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  24. Glenn

    It's not much of a surprise that 47% of Americans believe that the White House (i.e., Obama) was involved in the IRS "targeting" of conservative groups. That is just about the same percentage of people that didn't vote for him in 2012 (actually, 49% didn't vote for him). I have no idea whether or not the White House/Obama had knowledge of the IRS targeting – however, I would be shocked if it did for the simple reason that it's difficult to believe that anyone in the White House would be that reckless (stupid). Clearly this was going to come to light at some point. You can't keep this kind of IRS activity a secret when there are so IRS employees involved – many of whom didn't vote for the president.

    June 18, 2013 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  25. Barrack Hussein

    It is amazing how comments are allowed on a stupid article like this but none are allowed on the headline article demonstrating that a new CNN poll is showing a growing majority of Americans believe that my white house directed the IRS targeting of groups I disagree with.

    CNN has my back again.

    June 18, 2013 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
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