Poll show scandals damaging Obama’s support

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama’s support among political independents has lurched downwards amid a wave of scandals, according to a new poll.

The new poll, conducted for Wall Street Journal and NBC, also shows that many independents and Democratic voters are withholding judgment on the scandals, pending the emergence of new evidence.

Some of those undecided independents may come down against the president if the GOP-led investigations produce more damaging revelations, such as White House participation in the IRS’s policy of targeting of many tea party community groups, pro-life groups and pro-Israel advocates.

So far, the public hasn’t pinned the blame for the scandals on Obama, leaving him with an approval rating at 48 percent, and disapproval at 47 percent.

But that high number masks a steep drop among independents. Only 28 percent in swing voters approve of Obama’s performance, while 59 percent oppose his performance, said the poll of 1,000 adults, conducted between May 30 and June 2.

That 48 percent approval is down a few points from his plus-50 percent ratings, and may fall further if the large slice of independents decide Obama is responsible for the scandals.

The new poll matches results from a Quinnipiac poll taken last week.

For example, the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll showed that 41 percent of respondents hold the president “totally” or mainly” responsible for the U.S. response to the deadly jihadi attack on the Benghazi diplomatic site in September 2012.

Only nineteen percent said he was “not at all responsible.”

Twenty-seven percent said he was “only slightly” responsible, and 12 percent said they “didn’t know enough.”

Similarly, 33 percent said Obama is totally or mainly responsible for the IRS targeting, and only 24 percent said was not at all responsible.

Twenty-nine percent said he was “only slightly” responsible, and 13 percent said they didn’t know enough.

Solid majorities of the public also said that the scandals raise major of minor doubts about “the overall honesty and integrity of the Obama administration.”

Fifty-five percent said the IRS scandal raised doubts, 58 percent said the response to the Benghazi terror attack raised doubts, and 58 percent said the “subpoena of phone records of reporters to investigate national security leaks” raised doubts.

Roughly one-quarter of the respondents said each of the scandals does not raise doubts.

Forty-three percent say the IRS targeting was part of a “more widespread effort” rather than a few lower-level officials. Twenty-nine percent said the scandal was caused by “a few officials acting on their own,” and 27 percent said they “don’t know enough to have an opinion.”

The Justice Department’s tracking of reporters was deemed “not appropriate” by 48 percent of respondents, and “appropriate” by 27 percent. But 25 percent said they “don’t know enough to have an opinion.”

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