Most Americans believe the IRS improperly targeted conservative groups and that the administration is covering up important details about the Benghazi attack in Libya, but they stop short of pinning the blame on President Obama, a new poll has found.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll
, Obama's job approval rating is 51 percent and has remained steady over the last few months despite allegations of impropriety related to the controversies.
But 54 percent of the respondents see the federal government as threatening the rights of average Americans, compared to just 38 percent who believe the government is protecting them.
The survey of 1,001 adults conducted May 16-19 found nearly three-quarters of Americans across the political spectrum believe the IRS's targeting of conservative groups was inappropriate, with most saying they feel "strongly" that it was wrong.
However Republican and Democrats take opposing positions about the administration's culpability. Two-thirds of Democrats say the administration has been honestly disclosing what it knows, compared to about three-quarters of Republicans who accuse the administration of a cover-up, the Post reported.
Fifty-five percent of respondents, including 81 percent of Republicans, also believe the Obama administration is trying to cover up facts about the Benghazi attack last September. But results show that people are evenly split about whether congressional Republicans are raising legitimate concerns about it or simply engaging in partisan posturing.
On another matter putting pressure on the Obama administration, a big majority of Americans, 69 percent, say they are at least somewhat concerned that the Justice Department's seizure of Associated Press telephone records will improperly intrude on freedom of the press, while 52 percent believe the action was justified.
Obama's approval figures were helped by an increased optimism about the economy. For the first time since the 100-day mark of the president's first term, 53 percent say they are optimistic about the direction of the economy, compared to 41 percent who are pessimistic.
Nevertheless, a significant majority, 57 percent, continues to say the nation is off course.
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