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. Deathstalker74

    Everyone knows that at the end of the day, Obama had something to gain by this targeting of Romney supporters during the election. It's not rocket science that so many now realize his White House was somehow involved – especially when you start adding up the facts. Lerner pleads the fifth, Shulman meeting logs show 157 visits, the woman who oversaw the targeting now works for the IRS' obamacare division and received over 100k in bonuses, and Stephanie Cutter, Obama's ex-campaign chief publicly announces that she was in attendance at many of the Shulman White House visits. Connect the dots.

    June 18, 2013 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  2. dnokc

    Everything is directed from the top. Our federal government is full of DNC cronies running agencies by political appointment. If the underlings did it...it was because they were told to do it!

    June 18, 2013 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  3. I am NOT Magellan

    The majority of the public once believed that the Earth was flat...

    June 18, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  4. Jagdonald

    Get rid of the IRS and go to a Fair Tax where everyone pays in to the system. It is only fair in this country to wipe out the IRS because they are useless. We have way too many illegals and people not paying taxes that we would be much better off if the IRS did not exist. A national consumption tax of 10 cents on every dollar spent would save the country a lot of money and time bickering over who should pay more taxes. Everyone should pay! Obama and his administration are corrupt and if you don't think so after the NSA leaks, you have your head in the sand.

    June 18, 2013 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  5. DL

    Naturally they believe this. It's another 'conspiracy'. Since Obama became elected, it's like conservatism turned into a mental disease. They have become increasingly paranoid, and continue to be driven by propaganda, and myth's rather than any form of logic. You can't have any kind of normal discussion with them anymore. (I know, I live in a red state, and constantly hear about how Obama is going to implant their brains with computer chips and other complete nonsense).

    June 18, 2013 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  6. stanchman

    as they say, when enough people believe a lie is the truth, then it is.. lemmings.. anything to undermine this president..

    June 18, 2013 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
  7. Peter

    No surprise.

    America is pretty much split 50-50 on most issues these days.

    June 18, 2013 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  8. Sally

    This doesn't make sense. The majority of people think there is no such thing as global warming too?!

    June 18, 2013 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  9. Tom Slick

    Obama is hot on the trail of these perpetrators. Just like he got those responsible for "Fast and furious" and Benghazi.

    June 18, 2013 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  10. Ron

    I thought they didn't?

    June 18, 2013 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  11. Don

    Obama is a liar and possibly would of not won the election because of what he and his staff did. He's a crook like Nixon.

    June 18, 2013 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  12. Their Thinking

    You know it's dangerous when the public starts "thinking!" So they 'think' the White House was involved but there's no solid proof. Remember when Whites thought Blacks were subservient to them? Remember the "Whites Only" signs and the separate restroom facilities, etc.? Well, those folks too "thought" they were right. But see what wrong thinking gets you later on!

    June 18, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  13. Aimleft

    If only "nearly half" of those polled believe this, then this is not a "majority" number. I hope the polling and news sites are enjoying the hate and discontent they are helping to foster with their sensationalist headlines and pure BS. And as far as where this scrutiny came from – the White House or farther down the pike, GOOD for the IRS for targetting those miserable, POLITICAL GROUPS who should be arrested for trying to gain tax-free status. The IRS was doing its job against these anti-tax, anti-American groups. They should be praised for actually doing their jobs.

    June 18, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  14. Crooked Bridge

    Not an Obama apologist, nor asserting these are not issues that warrant attention, yet let's be honest. The majority of people polled form their opinions on little facts and a lot of emotion.

    June 18, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  15. andrew

    Oooh..poor teapotty babies...they were targeted?? really? lets see..they applied for tax exempt status while fully aware that they did not comply with any of the requirements for exemption..and now they squeal like the piglets they are because they were reviewed?? what a load...the more we hear and see their actions the more they should be singled out and micro scoped..typical of these pathetic losers..cheat and cry foul when caught.

    June 18, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  16. CraigM

    Why are people not being arrested at the IRS? Why are there not indictments against these wrongdoers? Why are the investigations not going forward to root out those responsible? Because Eric Holder controls the Justice
    Department and Barack Obama controls Mr. Holder.........orders to go after people to the IRS came from on top....if not the President himself then those "directly under his authority"...........why is justice not being done?

    June 18, 2013 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  17. Russ Smith

    Obama and his cronies are criminals and should be treated as such.

    June 18, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  18. Siesta Beach

    Because so many rich Republicans have enjoyed an IRS free ride under Bush, they are crying because the IRS is starting to make them pay.....boo hoo.

    June 18, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  19. BriGuy40

    Oh the Tea Party is just an innocent victim....RIGHT!

    June 18, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  20. Whatever

    Really? Charles Pierce has defined this poll and all pollls for us...
    1. Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
    2.Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough.
    3.Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.
    Idiot America...

    June 18, 2013 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  21. steven

    II would bet that that 50% are teaparty and republicans that beleive it started with obama...and as for snowden...i am sure that after looking at what the tea party and repubs are saying he gave them fodder to continue with investigations and to inflame the american people and turn them against obama...to complete his plan....i wonder what his politics is about...repub or tea party?

    June 18, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  22. Scott Dunbar

    Republicans don't seem to get it. You can invent issues for people to care Bout, but if you don't have viable alternatives to real issues then you will continue to lose.

    June 18, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  23. TomInRochNY

    So, they've interviewed a number of employees and haven't found a link to the WH. Is this going to be another Monica conspiracy? Lots of money, lots of partisan crap and nothing to show for it.

    June 18, 2013 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  24. Dave

    The headline states that a majority believe that Tea Party targeting came from high up. The sub-headline starts with "Nearly half the American Public believes..." Since when does "nearly half" become a majority, CNN???? In fact, the majority, though admittedly a slim majority, does not believe it came from up high. But most people don't read beyond the first headline so this is blatantly false and misleading reporting.

    June 18, 2013 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  25. NameJim

    This was the goal all along. Keep repeating an untruth and "people" start believing the lie. Unfortunately sheep are vulnerable to Salespeople.

    June 18, 2013 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
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