Poll: Americans say IRS the 'most important' controversy
May 30th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
10 years ago

Poll: Americans say IRS the 'most important' controversy

(CNN) - Of the three major controversies plaguing the Obama administration in recent weeks, the drama surrounding the Internal Revenue Service is the most pressing to U.S. voters in a new survey.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday, 44% of registered voters say the IRS probe of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status is the most important. A little fewer than a quarter - 24% - say the Obama administration's handling of last year's terror attack against a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, is of the most concern, while 15% say the same about the Justice Department's seizure of phone records of Associated Press reporters.

But a large majority, 73% to 22%, say improving the economy is a higher priority than these three issues, according to the survey.

More than three-quarters of Americans say a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the IRS's targeting of conservative groups. Broken down by party, 63% of Democrats want such an independent probe, while 88% of Republicans say the same thing.

A plurality - 44% to 33% - say members of Congress who criticize the administration over the IRS controversy are raising "legitimate concerns." Current and former IRS employees have appeared for congressional hearings in recent weeks, with more scheduled to come.

"There is overwhelming bipartisan support for a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Voters apparently don't like the idea of Attorney General Eric Holder investigating the matter himself, perhaps because they don't exactly think highly of him."

According to the survey, only 23% of voters approve of the job Holder is doing, compared with 39% who disapprove.

Regarding Benghazi, a plurality - 44% to 32% - say the criticism from congressional Republicans over the administration's handling of the terror attack is "just politics." As for the seizure of journalists' phone records, 37% of voters say such action raises "legitimate concerns," while 24% disagree.

As for President Barack Obama, his job approval rating stands at 49% in a new CNN Poll of Polls, which averages the six most recent nonpartisan, live-operator national surveys of the president's approval rating; 46% said they disapprove. The polls were conducted in the past two weeks, after the IRS and AP controversies made national headlines. The president's rating stands little changed from the CNN Poll of Polls conducted over the whole month of April, which showed the approval-disapproval split at 49-47.

In the Quinnipiac poll, 1,419 registered voters were surveyed May 22-28, with a sampling error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: IRS • Justice Department • Libya • Polls
soundoff (234 Responses)
  1. Liberal Sense (Or lack thereof)

    Screw the IRS. They're obviously just a bunch of liberal socialists.

    Poor country.

    May 30, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  2. Wine N Shoes

    What a bunch of hypocrites you liberals are! If it were the IRS scrutinizing left-leaning organizations, then you'd be up in arms and screaming about it. But since they were scrutinizing right-wing organizations, then you think the rules shouldn't apply.

    May 30, 2013 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  3. Rob

    The IRS scandal is huge and a direct assault on the First Amendment that should offend anyone who calls themself American. The AP scandal too. Benghazi is completely different and just as bad. To have a president lie, and in the process of telling that lie knowingly scapegoat and persecute a US citizen is impeachable in my opinion. And where was the president during the 8 hour siege? All of these scandals pretty much prove what I have believed about Obama–he's the worst thing to ever happen to the USA. He's a Hugo Chavez wannabe and CNN has done nothing but carry his water. disgraceful.

    May 30, 2013 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  4. Lavina Motz

    Whoever conducted this poll obviously did not contact the 85% of the American population who think that rewarding criminals (illegal aliens) with amnesty is (at best) controversial.... go figure.

    May 30, 2013 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. Ghostwriter

    You gotta love republicans. They create these "scandals" with little substance and a lot of "outrage". The immediately accuse the president, with even less substance than their scandal bears out. And when evidence of wrong doing is not produced, they keep going. When evidence is produced to prove the opposite, they still keep going.

    The reason intelligent folks are calling this stuff a witch hunt is mostly due to republicans not focusing in on the situation, but trying to use the situation for their own ends. And at this point, I have no reason to believe that republicans are interested in the truth, nor will we get it.

    May 30, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  6. james

    Just more poll lies from CNN

    May 30, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  7. BO

    Holder approved of Nazi-type IRS actions against organizations he disagreed with. Why does he still have the job of head of the DOJ?

    May 30, 2013 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  8. Dr Veruju

    The real scandals are suppressed by the MSM. Scandals like the so-called wantagate scandal and the scandal that prompted the Chinese to take out a $47 trillion lien on the US treasury probably one and the same scandal.
    The Global settlements scandal where the President on instructions from his boss (GHW Bush) continually stops the payments to name but a few.
    No the IRS scandal is a side show.

    May 30, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  9. George

    And this is why its buried in the politics section and not the front page?

    May 30, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
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