CNN Poll: Did White House order IRS targeting?
June 18th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
10 months 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. Mark

    Political groups do not get tax exempt status. So stop your whining. Its been going on for generations!

    June 18, 2013 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  2. Anonymous

    When there's documented evidence - which I haven't seen so far - I'll believe it. Until then, anything else is just supposition.

    June 18, 2013 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  3. Miguel Caron

    As someone who has seen homeland security and the Patriot Act target liberals and the left, let me be the first to say HA HA HA HA HA SUCK IT CONSERVATIVES NOW YOU KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE

    June 18, 2013 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  4. justin

    since when is 47% a majority, cnn?

    June 18, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  5. Informed Voter

    And exactly why do they believe this? Because of the media hype. It doesn't really matter what the truth is, now, does it?

    This is a credibility issue, CNN. Not with the President, but with the media.

    June 18, 2013 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  6. pokydoke

    McDonald's is this country's most popular restaurant, Budweiser our most popular beer, our House of Representatives has a majority of mouth breathing conservatives. Believing something without proper research may lead to poor decisions and mediocrity.

    June 18, 2013 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  7. Ken

    I support the IRS targeting political and religious groups that claim tax exemption while actively injecting themselves into political issues.

    June 18, 2013 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  8. Taroya

    OH, stop!
    Any group whose acronym stands for taxed enough already deserves to be targeted by the IRS. They are OBVIOUSLY trying to play an end game on the system!
    And for as many years as people have complained about being audited by the IRS, it was only a matter of time before something like this happened, it is a surprise that it took so long.
    SCOTUS! Scoff! What jerks! They knew darned well what would happen when they passed CU. I want THEIR returns audited every year for the next 10!

    June 18, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  9. Travis

    You are making not reporting news just like Fox. Be journalists not sensationalists.

    June 18, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  10. Bob

    Yes, the criminal NSA scandal is more important than the IRS, which should simply be disbanded, and the FED turned into an American, publicly owned bank.

    June 18, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  11. shawn l

    Give me a break.

    June 18, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  12. wfc

    Well, a poll. That must prove it.

    June 18, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  13. lgccac

    This all comes down to a level of trust. How much do you trust the government? Barry has a recent history of using government agencies to target his political enemies. You figure it out.

    June 18, 2013 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  14. nuclear mike

    Damn right the White HOuse did!!!

    Nothing could happen with the IRS when such a focused high level mission as the targeting of the Conservatives without the White HOuse being in on the decision.

    That means the President abused his executive power as he choose on whomever he choose whenever he choose to eliminate any oppostion to his policies.

    The President is guilty of violating the trust of the American People.

    June 18, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  15. SentTheWave

    Does anybody even like the Tea Party?

    June 18, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  16. king

    here we go again. these insinuations is getting really annoying. can someone show some fact please. the IRS is an independent agency, and is not run by the president. so when these repubs start talking about Washington Washington Washington, are they saying that the white house is in control of the IRS, and dictate their every move. i know they know how gullible alot of Americans are, and by saying Washington a lot of people are thinking white house. the IRS is independent, and have way more conservative repubs than liberal dem. so why would a majority of conservative repubs target their repub friends without sounding the alarm. the reason is simply, they are doing their jobs. so get over it folks.

    June 18, 2013 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  17. jdun

    If you repeat a lie long enough people will believe it. There is no evidence of Obama involvement in the IRS scandal, but tea party folks are having fun with it and folks who are not looking for evidence will believe them. It amazes me how the hatred of Obama is able to block needed legislation and work programs for our people. Where would we be today without Obama in office fighting for us? Probably in a Hooverville!

    June 18, 2013 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  18. OCCUPY WALLSTREET FOREVER

    Occupy Wallstreet >>> Teaparty.

    Occupy Wallstreet is for the have nots. The Tea Party is for the haves....

    June 18, 2013 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  19. Joe

    I take issue with the headline. It's not because 50% of people think that the Whitehouse pushed the policy that it is true. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But CNN's headline is misleading and sensationalist. When they know the truth, they should report it as such. But the result of a poll of what people think might be true or not does not merit the high-profile top headline that CNN has given it here.

    June 18, 2013 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  20. Normal

    CNN – Absurd Headline. Do you even care what the definition of news is at this point?

    June 18, 2013 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  21. Robin

    So what. The Tea Party has been obstructing President Obama's efforts to create jobs, require the super wealthy to pay more, create healthcare for all, secure medicare, help those most in need etc. etc. So I say they need investigated because they are unscrupulous.

    June 18, 2013 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  22. J

    There is no doubt in any intelligent person's mind that Obama was behind this. If he says he didn't know then he is asleep at the wheel. BTW....he has been for 5 years. America is finally waking up to this crook.

    June 18, 2013 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  23. Freddo

    Gotta love it ... get to the bottom of what really happened by conducting a POLL.

    Hey CNN ... maybe what people THINK doesn't really matter ... and what the IRS actually did is what you should be focused on.

    Just a thought.

    June 18, 2013 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  24. Johnny DC

    Which is more plausible? That an entire team of low-level IRS agents took it upon themselves to risk their job and freedom by knowingly discriminating against a particular group of people...

    ... or that officials in the Obama administration, not for the first time, directed such activity and simply never "told" the president, thus leaving his deniability intact while carrying out the orders he would have wanted done?

    There isn't enough discussion on this tactic by Obama and his Chicago thugs. He is constantly kept "out of the loop" and then cites his innocence or lack of involvement later on. If there's one thing he learned from the Nixon scandal, this appears to be it.

    Pathetic. And obvious.

    June 18, 2013 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  25. Gurgyl

    WH is doing EXCELLENT JOBin targeting tea party Tax-Cheats. I think it should target all GOP idiots and Donald Duck too.

    June 18, 2013 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
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