CNN Poll: Tea party gets boost from IRS controversy
May 20th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Tea party gets boost from IRS controversy

Washington (CNN) - As a major tea party group plans protests Tuesday at Internal Revenue Service offices across the country, a new national poll indicates that the IRS controversy has given the four-year-old movement a shot in the arm.

The week-and-a-half-old controversy, which involves the IRS targeting of tea party and other conservative groups which were seeking tax exempt status, has dominated headlines and put the White House on the defensive.

And according to a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday, it's also boosted the favorable rating for the tea party movement. Thirty-seven percent of people questioned said they see the tea party in a favorable light, up nine percentage points from CNN's March poll. But a plurality still view the movement unfavorably.

"Politically, the group that may have benefitted the most from last week's news is the tea party movement, which may be getting something akin to a 'sympathy vote' for being targeted by the highly unpopular IRS," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The 37% favorable rating for tea party is just one point shy of their all-time high in CNN polling, which they reached twice in 2010, during the heyday of the movement.

But according to the new poll, 45% of the public continues to hold an unfavorable view of the tea party, with just over one in ten saying they don't have an opinion. The 45% unfavorable rating for the tea party is down five points from a CNN survey from last November.

The IRS scandal is breathing new life into the tea party movement, says Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, a grassroots organization which has been a key player in the rise of the movement.

"You've seen a lot more energy and judging from the activity on the social networks, people are pissed off about this," Kibbe recently told CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta.

Niger Innis of agrees.

"Does this pump additional fuel into our tank? Yes it does," said Innis last Thursday on Capitol Hill at a tea party news conference on the IRS controversy that drew movement leaders and activists from across the country. At the event, tea party groups shared their stories of what they described as years of harassment from the IRS over their attempts to receive tax exempt status.

Tuesday, the Tea Party Patriots, one of the movement's largest national groups, plans protests at IRS offices across the country.

The tea party, an anti-big government movement, was formed in early 2009, in opposition to both the Wall Street bailouts put in place by outgoing President George W. Bush and the federal stimulus plan being pushed by incoming President Barack Obama.

The poll was conducted by ORC International for CNN on May 17-18, with 923 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. AJ

    Hezbollah, Hamas and The Tea Party. I think the IRS was just monitoring an anti-government terrorist organization. All their talk of revolution and succession, and they wonder why they were being watched?

    May 20, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. Malory Archer

    Why isn't the IRS working on revocation of the tax exempt status of the Cult of Scientology?


    Why? Unlike so many other churches, aka "cults" the Scientologists tend to keep their political beliefs to themselves.

    May 20, 2013 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "Sniffit, first off please make a point without calling anyone names"

    Typical. Bully cries at the slightest hint of people fighting back, fire with fire. Socialist, Marxist, commy, comrade, dead leader, where's the birth certificate, secret muslim, apologizer, un-American, Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Marx, Mao, baby killers, reverse racists, etc etc the list goes on and on. If you were just going to retreat to your persecution fantasies the instant people had enough and started giving you back the kind of crap you initiated the minute you lost the 2008 elections, then maybe you shouldn't have started dishing it out in the first place.

    May 20, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  4. vs101

    Bigots are always energized by the promise of a lynching.

    May 20, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  5. Charity

    Hmm. Interesting. Most people I know want him out of office. I've seen more and more people around the area with "Impeach Obama" signs.

    As for comments of who has done what wrong in the past.....if an action by a President or government office is illegal then it should be handled and treated as such – regardless of what party they represent. Maybe if we could stop talking parties and slinging mud and just talk about who a person is and what they are doing we could get a bit more done. We kind of have a giant nation of the Hatfields and McCoys.

    May 20, 2013 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  6. jinx9to88

    @ jonnyg

    Politics aside...the country loses when it's President lies and covers the truth and acts like a dictator


    So what were your thoughts when Bush was president? Hopefully the same cause i do recall Bush/Cheney lied a few times.

    May 20, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  7. some guy in New Hampshire

    This doesn't mean the tea party's policies are more popular or acceptable to more people. It's a pity bump, the way people always come to the aid of someone who appears to have been victimized - not that these tea party groups were, as none were denied their questionable tax exemption.

    May 20, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. wyominguys

    All I want is a white President and a tax refund!

    May 20, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  9. freedomliker

    If the tea party had started wearing guy fawkes masks and camping in public parks then would cnn hail them as a diverse new populist movement? I don't think so. Better to drdge up articles to marginalize them and invite a stream of ignorant liberal bias like most of these comments.

    May 20, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  10. blf83

    Tea Partiers and their variously-named affiliates are dangerous organizations. I respect their their right to their opinions, but they have no right to their own "facts." They claim to want small government, but wish to rule from their hyper-religious, hyper-"conservative", views which are neither religious nor conservative. Bigots, racists, anti-government militia types want THEIR way while decrying government of, by, and for the people.

    May 20, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. Dan

    What the IRS did was wrong.But I will always think the tea party politics and policies to be offensive and demeaning..

    May 20, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  12. Ron L

    As usual in America, you find a group of 3 to 10 people out of 1,000's of IRS employees and the WHOLE systems is no good. In my opinion there is one way to resolve this. NO TAX BREAKS for ANY POLITICAL party. Enough of the nonsense...lets move on. If you are able to contribute and you REALLY FEEL that organization presents your point of veiw DONATE, but get NO WRITE -OFF.

    May 20, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  13. bill

    What is the tea baggers going to do when their food stamps are taken away, eat bullets.

    May 20, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  14. Name Bob

    If Congress will not deal with everyone who was involved without respect to persons, there needs to be another American Revolution.

    May 20, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. abnguy

    People talk about the Tea party. It is not really a party but a grass roots effort. That is why this IRS scandal harms them they are many small groups not a national party. All involved in the IRS or connected should be fired.

    May 20, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  16. Iwona

    I like President Obama, and I would vote for him today again.

    May 20, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  17. L_Hill

    It's not surprising that the Tea Party got a bump after being targeted by the IRS. Anybody that the IRS dislikes, you have to like for that reason alone.

    – Lauryn Hill.

    May 20, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  18. GI Joe

    It's not a bump - it's more like a zit or a boil on the butt that will soon erupt and be gone.

    Won't take long before it's back down. They and their 502(c)(4)s should be audited - there's nothing charitable about Teahadists.

    May 20, 2013 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  19. darkhorse

    I don't like Obama and I'm an independent.

    May 20, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
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