Independents blame White House for IRS scandal

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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A clear majority of independents, and even a plurality of Democrats, believe high-ranking IRS officials were aware of the agency’s harassment of conservatives’ political organizing, according to a new Gallup poll.

The poll’s results are risky for Obama, whose political approval rate has remained relatively high, despite the lousy economy, because of his relatively high personal ratings.

Sixty-two percent of adults disapprove of his handling of the IRS scandal, said the Gallup poll. Only 32 percent of adults approve of his reaction to the scandal.

If his approval ratings falls, he’ll have even more difficulty accomplishing his top political goals. Those goals include passage of an immigration bill and winning a Democratic majority in the House.

Fifty-seven percent of independents say high IRS officials were “aware of conservative targeting,” said the Gallup poll, released Friday. Only 23 percent believe the “knowledge [was] limited to IRS employees in one office.”

Fifty-four percent of independents also believe that “high-ranking Obama administration officials” knew of the targeting.

Forty-three percent of Democrats said they believe high-level IRS officials were aware, and 41 percent said the knowledge was limited to employees in one office.

Twenty-six percent of Democrats also believe high-ranking Obama officials knew of the targeting.

GOP voters, in contrast, overwhelmingly believe top IRS officials knew, by 84 percent to seven percent. Seventy-two percent believe top administration officials knew of the targeting.

Forty-eight percent of independents think the scandal is very serious, and 24 percent believe it is “somewhat serious.”

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