CNN Poll: Did White House order IRS targeting?
June 18th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
9 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. 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. (NB I referring to the headline on CNNs main page. The headline to the story, posed as a question, is in my mind appropriate.)

    June 18, 2013 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  2. DN

    How much of a mess or dumb is the GOP to lose the election to Obama, if you believe he was dumb enough to be behind the IRS targeting. To order the targeting is absolutely stupid because those dots are too easy to connect.

    FYI: the IRS is an insulated body so the White House nor Congress has any influence over it. But that gets in the way of conservatives who hate the President.

    June 18, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  3. jb

    Is it 'nearly half' or is is 'a majority'? I cannot believe how bad CNN has gotten.

    June 18, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  4. Old Soldier

    Shazzam! Polls indicate people have opinions about a given topic, regardless the veracity. If this article is accurate, no indication exists as yet the White House ordered this. But the polled folks are already convinced. Why wait for facts? Why not jump to a conclusion? That's all too common. Partizan prejudices are almost understandable: it's natural to disbelieve and decry an opposing political party. But jumping to conclusions based on no facts is just plain dumb. There's time aplenty to file charges, demand tesignations, or any other action when the facts are laid out. But people never learn. Tchuss!

    June 18, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  5. StonehamMel

    CNN has two polls out today, and both share a classic, historic error: Telephone (landline) polling.

    The Truman-Dewey campaign pre-election polling was wrong because it depended on landline calls – and vastly more Republicans had telephones than Democrats.

    Today, few people under 30 have landline phones – their only phones are cellphones pollsters can't reach. So OF COURSE old white people who sit in front of TVs and watch Fox News will say they're against immigration reform and that the IRS directives came from Obama. They will also tell you that Benghazi was the result of Obama incompetence, that we should impose a no-fly zone on Syria, and that Obama has killed jobs.

    I can't believe CNN is still depending on telephone polls. The results would be switched if you polled only via Facebook or Twitter – and equally wrong – since, as most my retired friends will tell you, those computer things are just a fad like 8–track.

    June 18, 2013 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  6. Doodlebug2222

    Alarmists much? This person was never polled.. so how can a poll say a large % said this and that – when most of us were never polled...Oh.. an online poll... yeah.. that really counts... (< sarcasm).

    June 18, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  7. frank landa

    NO KIDDING ! Obama announced on TV many times that the Tea Party was criminal and needed to be investigated. That was a direct order from the boss to the IRS to attack his political opponents

    June 18, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  8. asnawi

    is that obama administration pointing out the opponents last election or he wants people to suffer big taxes..

    June 18, 2013 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  9. Homer

    Oh, please. This sort of nonsense tabloid coverage is partly why I canceled my cable TV.... And the reason I don't rely on CNN for real news anymore. CNN has become a crude tabloid that just aims to increase page hits with "provocative" titles and crap stories.

    June 18, 2013 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  10. First One

    Why does anyone care? I believe that the IRS is doing its job to review any documentation of "Tax-Exempt" requests. If none of these groups were doing anything wrong - there would never have been any uproar

    June 18, 2013 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  11. Anonymous

    The reality is, following Obama's nomination, the IRS was deluged with applications from 'patriot' groups seeking the tax exempt status given to so called 'social welfare' groups. Unfortunately, the activities of many of these groups resembled PACs and that is a large part of what garnered so much attention from the IRS. Also, some liberal groups received scrutiny as well.

    June 18, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  12. jleoxii13

    Which half of America did you interview? It is extremely unlikely that the President targeted the "tea party of loudoun county" or some such thing. It is more likely that the IRS got flooded with these things and got suspicous. You guys are doing the country a dis-service.

    June 18, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    Absolutely.......for the same reasons he spied on everyone in advance his political ambitions.

    June 18, 2013 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  14. Dale H

    With Obama's subtle support if not his direction, David Axelrod and the Chicago campaign machine are responsible

    June 18, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  15. Steve

    Are you kidding me? Only, "Fifty-one percent of those questioned said the IRS controversy is a very important issue to the nation..." Only half? To have the most powerful American governmental agency targeting Americans based on their belief of what is best for the country – and to not have ALL of the country rise up in protest – indicates that only half of us believe that our very freedom of speech is important. My Beloved America! – what has happened to you?

    June 18, 2013 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  16. dfb69

    Do you remember that time back in like 83/84 when a Captain in the US Army got his unit to invade Mexico to stop illegal immigrants? Yeah, neither do I, because it didnt happen. Do you know why it iddn't happen? Because mid-level managers dont make these kind of decisions. Decisions like this come from above. WAY UP above!
    Of course the WH knew about this, because they are the ones who directed it

    June 18, 2013 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  17. onlyfacts

    If anything, the IRS should be investigated for allowing the Tea Party to be labeled a Social Welfare Organization! That is the true crime! Another simple fact: The IRS was bombarded with these 501(4)(c) applications from conservative groups. Liberal groups applied later when they realized they'd better cheat and lie too or lose. THAT is why Conservative groups were not singled out, they were the only one's at the time. All simple logic! And I can't wait to read the idiotic responses.

    June 18, 2013 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  18. William R. Hill

    Right or wrong, the president heads a government subject to suspicion for a lot of reasons, so when things go wrong he takes the heat. Only fair because the president and his party take credit whenever they can. The IRS is hated by just about everybody, except for a few who take advantage of loopholes created for their benefit. In addition, the military-industrial complex makes politicians blind to no-win situations like Syria, despite the waste of many lives and trillion of dollars to accomplish nothing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Given what presidents do on purpose and negative circumstances over which they often have no control, it's a miracle any president ever gets a positive approval rating.

    June 18, 2013 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  19. Chris

    36 percent of Americans believe in UFOs, 29 percent in Bigfoot. Show the evidence or drop the story.

    June 18, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  20. Mac

    Fake controversy. ALL of these tax exempt groups should be reviewed with the utmost scrutiny if they want tax exempt status.

    June 18, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  21. John

    I am starting to be glad I don't live there any more. The armed loonies only want bigger weapons to kill each other with, and assume political cheating where logic dictates more attention to political groups seeking 'tax-exempt' status. C'mon, who SHOULD be tax exempt, other than non-profit charity organizations? Any POLITICAL entity SHOULD be taxed, what the hell, the rest of us are.

    I think I will just continue to vote by mail. Not that it matters. America is truly going down the tubes. Hindsight seems to be the ONLY sight they have there any more.

    Case in point: Snowden is NOT a Chinese spy. Not sure yet what to say about him, but it is preposterous to suggest a person claiming moral integrity on government snooping, would do so on any behalf of a nation unquestionably more into this than the USA. What qualified me to say that? I am a citizen of the USA who lives in China, and I know firsthand of internet monitoring here. Snowden could NOT attack the USA and support China about a thing China does at least as bad. Anyone out there ever take logic 101?

    Yes I know. If they monitor me as I claim perhaps now they will deport me. Oh, shizen! I'd have to find a new home! Well, China and the USA are not the only happy countries on the planet.

    June 18, 2013 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  22. dixie

    Anyone that thinks these IRS workers were just out of the blue desiding to make more work for themselves is crazy. There had to be some directive to do this. Not just a wild hair up their butt.

    June 18, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  23. Peter in Ottawa

    If I had to choose, I'd say yes the White House did order this.

    June 18, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  24. surfbuddy

    One only has to remember watching the Sunday morning pundit shows with Cutter, Plouffe,Axelrod and others on Obama's election campaign committee...spewing lies and hatred at republicans and romney. An as independent....they were a total turn-off. they were vicious.

    June 18, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  25. Vorenious

    It is about time, that America wake up to the scandals involved with this White House. It is time also for people to call and demand that this fool be impeached or tar & feather and drum out of the US. He is a traitor and has knowingly violated the oath of office and our Constitution in so many ways. Too include not being a citizen, as well, as purposely wasting millions, upon millions of American dollars for his trips and his Wednesday night parties, i.e., Beyonce having $1M spent on her at a Wednesday dinner, while others, much more important than this idiot, from Presidents to Prime Ministers, normally get a dinner reception at less than $250K, which is still too fricking much. Join us in the Ten Million Man/Woman march in DC in October. Remember to bring your firearms, as we are going to take back our government.

    June 18, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
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