CNN Poll: Obama Still Trusted Despite Scandals, But Republicans Not Overreacting

A nationwide poll has found that most Americans still have a favorable view of President Barack Obama despite the recent scandals surrounding the government, but most also agree that Republicans are reacting appropriately when it comes to raising concerns about the issues.

The CNN/ORC International survey, which was released Sunday morning, found that 53 percent of respondents approved of the job Obama is doing as president, while 45 percent said that they disapprove.

The Obama administration has recently been involved in what some have called a "triplegate" of scandals, including the Internal Revenue Service targeting some conservative groups; a suspected cover-up of the September 2012 terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi; as well as the Justice Department spying on phone records from The Associated Press.

Despite all this, the CNN poll suggests that Obama's approval rating has actually gone up – by as much as two percent, compared to CNN's April poll which showed he had a 51 percent approval rating – though CNN's polling director cautioned against concluding that Obama has experienced a gain.

"That two-point difference is well within the poll's sampling error, so it is a mistake to characterize it as a gain for the president," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Nonetheless, an approval rating that has not dropped and remains over 50% will probably be taken as good news by Democrats after the events of the last week."

However, the same poll also found that Americans have strong feelings regarding the scandals and believe they should be taken seriously. Fifty-five percent of respondents to the CNN poll said that the news surrounding the IRS' targeting of conservative groups is "very important," with another 30 percent calling it "somewhat important."

While 71 percent said that the IRS' actions were "unacceptable," 15 percent found what Obama has said about the matter to be "completely true." Another 46 percent called it "mostly true."

Obama has denied knowing about the IRS' targeting of conservative groups before the news was made public earlier this month, and remarked at a news conference: "If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous. And there's no place for it."

Republicans in Congress have responded sharply to the news, with Republican Sen. Susan Collins from Maine saying, "This is truly outrageous and it contributes to the profound distrust that the American people have in government." Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called for an investigation, describing the IRS' actions as "thuggish practices."

Fifty-four percent of respondents to the CNN poll said that Republicans in Congress are "reacting appropriately" to the scandal, while 42 percent suggested they were overreacting.

The Benghazi scandal had Americans divided on some questions.

The poll found that 53 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with how the Obama administration has handled the scandal in the past few months, while 42 percent declared themselves satisfied. Fifty percent believe the Obama administration provided Americans with what they really knew about the incident at the time, while 44 percent said that false statements were an attempt by the Obama administration to intentionally mislead the public about that attack.

Fifty-nine percent agreed that the government could have prevented the attack, and the same percentage said that Republicans in Congress are reacting appropriately to the scandal.

"More Republicans than Democrats or Independents say these three issues are very important to the nation, but even among Democrats, nearly half say the matters are very serious," Holland concluded.

The poll was based on interviews with 923 U.S. adults on May 17-18, with a plus or minus 3 percentage point margin of sampling error.

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