WASHINGTON, May 21, 2013 — After what could be argued was the worst week of the Obama administration, new polls show that the President has escaped relatively unscathed.
Two polls taken over the past few days have released numbers that must have Republican’s shaking their heads in frustration.
The CNN/ORC International survey was released Sunday, revealing numbers relating to all three scandals that have hit the White House in recent weeks as well as Obama approval.
The polls show President Obama’s approval has not dropped at all. The polls also show, however, that the American public is taking these scandals seriously and they do not believe that Republican’s have overplayed their hands with their reactions to the controversies.
According to the CNN/ORC survey, 53 percent of those polled approve of the job the President is doing. Only 45 percent said they disapprove. The last time CNN asked the same question was in April, and at that time the president’s approval sat at 51 percent. Although the increase of 2 percent does fall within the margin of error, the results still show an approval rating at the coveted mark of 50 percent with no drop despite the succession of concerning stories being reported almost daily.
These numbers are in line with the Gallup poll covering the same time frame. That poll shows Obama’s approval remaining at 49 percent, the same percentage Gallup found in April.
The most logical explanation for these numbers is that the public just doesn’t care about the controversies but the numbers contradict that theory.
When people were asked about their concern on the individual stories, the response to Gallup was overwhelming. Eighty-five percent said that they thought the IRS story was important. Eighty-seven percent said the same about the AP story and 84 percent feel that the Benghazi investigation is important.
So why are the president’s numbers remaining stable?
People do not hold Obama responsible for the trouble. They are concerned about the IRS, AP and Benghazi, Libya but they are holding the IRS and the justice department solely responsible. They believe what the president has been saying.
The survey found seven out of every ten people feel that the IRS targeting conservative groups is unacceptable, but just over six in ten people believe that Obama’s statements about this scandal are true. Over half of the respondents believe the IRS acted alone with only 37 percent believing the White House was involved in the decision.
As for how people feel about the attack on the embassy in Benghazi, 59 percent believe the US government could have done something beforehand to prevent the attack that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, which is up 11 points from when the same question was asked in November. But 50 percent still believe that the statements made by the Obama administration after the attack were what they actually believed to be true at the time. The 50 percent does show a drop from the numbers in November but a relatively small drop of four points with a three point margin of error.
The CNN/ORC polls also addressed how people feel about how the Republicans in congress have handled the Benghazi crisis as well as the IRS scandal. The survey shows that the majority believe that Congress has not overreacted to these situations. They received 59 percent support for the handling of Benghazi and 54 percent approval in their handling of the IRS situation.
The recent coverage does not seem to have affected how people feel about the president. They are concerned about the scandals but they believe that President Obama is truthful and that the IRS acted on their own. If people liked and approved of the president before, that has not changed. Those who did not like him, still don’t.
“People respond along party lines,” writes Alan Abramowitz, an Emory political scientist who predicted last week that the polls would remain unchanged, “just like members of Congress. Republicans believe the worst of Obama, but they already believed the worst of Obama. Democrats see Republicans pushing these things because they are out to get Obama and stop his agenda and/or they think Obama is responding correctly to the problems that do exist. So it’s like almost every other issue or controversy.”
If opinions toward the president have not changed after the past week, they are likely to remain unchanged unless some different information comes to light. If clear evidence were to come out showing Obama directing the IRS to go after conservative and tea party organizations or some undisputed proof that Obama personally, intentionally lied to the American public after Benghazi, Democrats will continue to believe that Republicans are out to get Obama and Republicans will continue to believe that Obama is a dishonest president.
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