May 19th, 2013
08:57 AM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Controversies hurting Obama? Has GOP overreacted?

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama comes out of what was arguably the worst week of his presidency with his approval rating holding steady, according to a new national poll.

But a CNN/ORC International survey released Sunday morning also indicates that congressional Republicans are not overplaying their hand when it comes to their reaction to the three controversies that have consumed the nation's capital over the past week and a half. And the poll finds that a majority of Americans take all three issues seriously.

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According to the survey, which was conducted Friday and Saturday, 53% of Americans say they approve of the job the president is doing, with 45% saying they disapprove. The president's approval rating was at 51% in CNN's last poll, which was conducted in early April.

"That two-point difference is well within the poll's sampling error, so it is a mistake to characterize it as a gain for the president," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Nonetheless, an approval rating that has not dropped and remains over 50% will probably be taken as good news by Democrats after the events of the last week."

The CNN poll is in-line with Gallup, which also indicated a very slight rise in Obama's approval rating over the same time period. And Gallup's daily tracking poll also indicated a slight upward movement of Obama's approval rating over the past week. But as with the CNN poll, it was within that survey's sampling error.

More than seven in 10 in the CNN poll say that the targeting by the Internal Revenue Service of tea party and other conservative groups that were applying for tax exempt status was unacceptable. While the White House and both parties in Congress are criticizing the IRS actions, congressional Republicans are depicting the controversy as a case of the federal government gone wild.

But more than six in 10 say that the president's statements about the IRS scandal are completely or mostly true, with 35% not agreeing with Obama's characterizations. And 55% say that IRS acted on its own, with 37% saying that White House ordered the IRS to target tea party and other conservative groups.

Only 42% of the public is satisfied with how the Obama administration has handled the September attack in Benghazi, Libya, which left the U.S ambassador to that country and three other Americans dead. Fifty-three percent say they are dissatisfied. But those numbers are virtually unchanged from November.

Republicans have ripped the administration for not providing adequate security for the Benghazi mission, botching the response to it, and misleading the public for political gain with the attack coming less than two months before last November's presidential election.

According to the poll, 44% say statements made by the Obama administration soon after the attack were an attempt to intentionally mislead the public. Half of those questioned say those statements reflected what the Obama administration believed, at the time, had occurred.

But 59% now say that the U.S government could have prevented the attack in Benghazi, up 11 points from last November. And only 37% say that congressional Republicans are overreacting in their handling of the matter, with 59% saying they've reacted appropriately.

It's the same story on the IRS controversy, with 54% saying the GOP in Congress has not overplayed its hand.

The White House has also been criticized by Congress for the Justice Department's secret collection of phone records from the Associated Press as part of a government investigation into classified leaks. According to the poll, 52% say the Justice Department's actions were unacceptable, with 43% saying they disagree.

Americans appear to be taking all three controversies very seriously, with 55% saying the IRS and Benghazi matters are very important to the nation and 53% saying the same thing about the AP case.

"More Republicans than Democrats or Independents say these three issues are very important to the nation, but even among Democrats, nearly half say the matters are very serious," Holland adds.

Are Americans’ trust in the government shaken?

Only 43% say they have a great deal or some confidence in the people who run the federal government. But 56% say they have a great deal or some confidence in the system of government.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International between May 17-18, with 923 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's 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 • Libya • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (1,004 Responses)
  1. gager

    Obamacare is not an improvement of the health care of Americans.

    May 19, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  2. al196112

    As you snicker and giggle
    And clap your hands with glee
    Just remember this point
    They eventually will get thee.

    May 19, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. Gurgyl

    I do not give darn hoot at these contras. IRS did excellent. Hats off to Obama if he did it to catch GOP thugs that evade taxes.

    May 19, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  4. Dan Jones

    The only possible reason for Obama's approval rating remaining the same after all of the inept and shameful things coming out about him is that the people who like him don't care about silly things like ethics and honesty. All they care about is welfare, LGBT agendas and abortion without limits. They would support anyone who feeds their base nature.

    May 19, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  5. Tom Hartman

    Why does everyone keep skirting over the fact that Republicans turned down the budget for additional security?

    May 19, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. mb2010a

    The Republicans/tea baggers are digging their own grave. The sooner we put them in it the better...2014 can't come soon enough. Vote the jerks out and let's get this country back on track...

    May 19, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. rs

    Hopefully, the President's creation of this environment of corruption , lies and denial will catch up to him, where all responsibility ultimately rests.
    Obviously, you have failed to notice what you are describing actually lies with the GOP trying to fabricate controversies where none exist.

    May 19, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  8. Chris

    I didn't realize he's running for a 3rd term?

    May 19, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. Dwayne

    Has the GOP overacted? Stupid question. If the tables had been reversed, and Bush was involved, you can guarantee that the democrats would have been screaming for blood. Don't believe me? Then what in the world were the screaming about over Katrina, when Bush waited to be asked by the local states for help rather then bullying in like Obama has. And where was the media and public screaming over the BP oil spill? Where has been the uproar over the Bengazi scandal which cost lives? You name it, Obama has been involved and yet no one is crying for blood. Put Bush in there and it would be crucifixion for sure. Everyone thought Nixon was terrible – but he was a walk in the park compared to the corruption and evil that Obama exudes and stands for. The problem is that the country elects the leader that reflects the moral corruption of the country so we got what we deserve.

    May 19, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. Daniel Maddigan

    That gurgling sound is the GOP going down the drain along with their obstructionist agenda.

    May 19, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. Wake up, America!!

    Little by little we will lose our rights under the Obama dictatorship if we don't wake up and smell the coffee. He hides (and Liberals abet him) under the cloak of race to bring America to its knees. The Obamas are after only ONE thing: to eliminate any influence of non-minorities and give everyone equal wealth (or poverty) - except for themselves, of course.

    May 19, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. jno

    All of this still amounts to the hatred that the Republican party and so called Tea partiers have for a black man who is doing a much better job than his bimbo predecessor that they corruptedly put in the White House. The other side of it is the AP writers all sticking together for the sake of journalism. Let me tell you about journalism, it's right for the administration to do what they are because some journalist are out of control! They do not always need to report everything out there especially if contains something classified or involving the CIA! Leave the CIA alone, we as the people don't need all the darn details! Let them go to work, sometimes journalist need to shut the hell up about somethings and putting all of our secrets and tactics out there for the freaking enemy to see!!! They put Americans lives on the line to get a freaking story....take the politics out of this for a minute you bunch of daviddukes and you'll see who the real bad guy is!

    May 19, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  13. rs

    Fuel is $4/gallon. Groceries are outrageous. Nobody can afford to be alive anymore. I'm sure he's doing fine. We're the ones you should worry about.
    First, you are delusional.
    Second, you sound poor- if that is the case you are the 47% the GOP hates.
    Third, almost all economic indicators are up- completely without GOP help.

    Figure it out!

    May 19, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  14. beevee

    It is glaringly obvious to any american voter by the manner in which the republican leadership is trying to get back at the president, for winning a second term to their bitter disappointment, over the incidents of the past couple of weeks. While those issues are importnat one needs to look at the overall accomplishments of the president and decide whether the recent ripping of the president by the repiblican leadership is ridden with jealousy and their failure to get into the WH. I hope that the president will be smart enough in dealing with these issues in future and not let the GOP bash him to gain the favor of the voters

    May 19, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  15. golddayumit

    Obama is the biggest charlatan to ever occupy the place he does in this country's government. He needs to be disposed of before he finishes the job in another 3 years of downpointing this country!

    May 19, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  16. Rand Paul for 2016

    Need I say anymore.

    May 19, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  17. Ken

    The fact Obama's poll numbers remain the same after these recent scandals point to two possible reasons. 1. The polls being taken are skewed by the poll takers to get the result they're looking for, thus unreliable. 2. The American public is so out of touch, they fail to see the seriousness and implications of these scandals.

    May 19, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  18. Obama

    American public is not stupid, they can see what GOP is doing – GOP is doing what they did to Clinton in his first term. They have no agenda of their own, and want to desperately win in 2016 by grasping at straws. Shameful.

    May 19, 2013 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  19. NameScott

    Amazing the amout of comments here that still bring up Bush! Silly Progressives continue to put Obama over Country even when abuse of power is staring them in the face. Keep your brown shirts pressed and ironed Obama lovers!

    May 19, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. Suur Kurat

    How much more evidence does the American people need to come to the conclusion that "our precious" (AKA Barak Hussein Obama) is inadequate to the job of being the president of our nation?

    Our precious Barak Hussein Obama was the protege of Bill Ayers and Rev Wright, and honed his skills at conning people by hustling on Chicago street corners. No wonder his administration is being run like a Chicago back alley gräp game.

    The blame for the scandals at the IRS rests directly with our "precious" and no one else. But, of course, "our precious" knows that he can con the naive American people into absolving him of any responsibility. And, why shouldn't he be smug about conning the American people? Majority of the American people voted for "our precious" to be their president. How much more foolish can a people be?

    May 19, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. Dean


    What good are the polls? He hasn't had a chance since he was first elected. From the very first day in office everything he tried/tries to improve and/or implement the Repugs and Teabaggers fight to the hilt!! And the Repugs and Teabaggers also control the purse strings for the programs he wants to implement. For 8 years of the smuckhead Bush they gave him everything he wanted included two illegal and unfunded wars. And he left the country in an utter MESS! That's not Obama's fault but the Repugs and Teabaggers have done a good PR job selling that point to their ignorant party members and the not so sharp American public

    John proves that you just can't hide stupidity. Owebama can do no wrong even and everything is Bush's fault. Even when Obama and the Dems controlled both houses. And in no way did the Democratic controlles House and Senate during Bush's last two years and Franka nd Dodd's housing and financial rules did no harm. Thier idea was "if we make everyone make a reasonable down payment on a house then we will limit home ownership to only those who can afford it". What a novel idea.

    May 19, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  22. MissPO

    Why don't you folks remember the true outrage when Bush was trampling our privacy rights and changing the rules? Please answer that before you go all partisan and blame the current administration just because you are Republicans. Quit pretending you even care, if you really don't. Because of you people, "fake outrage" is now a coined phrase. If you want to accomplish anything, quit getting in line and repeating everything you hear from Fox, etc., and take a look at what the Republicans did regarding wire-tapping, etc., in the name of patriiotism (after dropping the ball on BinLaden – or never even picking it up in the first place).

    May 19, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. ATLJack

    1992-2000 GOP could not beat Clinton in elections so they "created" fake scandals to smear him in order to win elections.

    2008-2013 GOP could not beat Obama in elections so they "created" fake scandals to smear him in order to win elections.

    History repeats itself.

    May 19, 2013 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  24. us_1776

    The GOP LIES about the emails became crystal clear when every single one of the supposed quotes from these emails were proven to be completely false now that the Whitehouse made the emails public.

    News sites were showing the Republican version in contrast to the real email.

    Wow. Nothing but distortions and outright lies by the GOP about these emails.


    May 19, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  25. Futureman1

    The only people blaming any of this on Obama are right wings tools!

    May 19, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
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