Tags: poll | white | house | irs | targeting | cnn

CNN Poll: Near Majority Believes White House Directed IRS Targeting

Image: CNN Poll: Near Majority Believes White House Directed IRS Targeting Tea Party activists and their supporters gather outside IRS headquarters in Washington on May 21 to protest extra scrutiny of their organizations.

By Melanie Batley   |   Tuesday, 18 Jun 2013 08:43 AM

A near majority of Americans believe that senior White House officials ordered the Internal Revenue Service to target conservative groups for heightened scrutiny, according to a new poll.

The CNN/ORC International survey conducted June 11-13 found that 47 percent of respondents believe the White House directed the IRS program, an increase of 10 points since last month. Forty-nine percent believe agents acted on their own, down from 55 percent last month.

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The poll of 1,014 adults also found that 83 percent of those surveyed believe the controversy is very important or somewhat important to the nation, compared to just 16 percent who say it's not too important or not important at all.

The survey follows hard on the heels of last week's Fox News poll that found 66 percent believed targeting was ordered by senior members of the IRS hierarchy with only 23 percent believing it was a mistake by lower-level employees.

Republicans and Democrats are split about the cause of the targeting, according to the CNN poll's findings.

"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," said CNN in its reporting of the findings.

Independents have demonstrated a significant change of opinion on the matter, with 54 percent who believe the issue is very important, compared to 36 percent who said so in the May poll.

The poll also analyzed the findings by age. Americans over 50 were far more likely than younger respondents to believe the White House ordered the targeting at 53 to 42 percent.

"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," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"But the Obama administration may be losing independents on this matter. In May, only 36 percent felt the White House ordered the IRS to target conservative groups; now that number has crossed the 50 percent threshold."

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