Obama's Ratings Remain Steady Despite Controversies

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 19 2013 12:46 PM

Poll Shows Controversies Haven't Hurt Obama’s Approval Ratings

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President Obama visits a class at Moravia Park Elementary School in Baltimore

Photo by Kristoffer Tripplaar-Pool/Getty Images

President Obama may have suffered one of the worst weeks of his presidency, but so far it seems the public isn’t letting the controversies that have engulfed the White House affect their view of the president. At the same time, the CNN/ORC International survey also suggests Republicans “are not overplaying their hand” when it comes to the controversies considering that Americans take the issues seriously.

The survey conducted Friday and Saturday show 53 percent of American approve of Obama’s job performance, an insignificant increase of two percentage points from a poll conducted last month. And while more than 70 percent of Americans say the IRS targeting of conservative groups is unacceptable and serious, 55 percent contend that the agency acted on its own and more than 60 percent believe the president’s statements on the scandal. As for the controversy over the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, only 42 percent is satisfied with how the administration responded, and 59 percent believe the attack could have been prevented, an increase of 11 percentage points since November.

Earlier in the week, Gallup reported that only a slim majority of Americans said they were following the IRS and Benghazi scandals closely, below the average of 60 percent that regularly claim to follow news stories. Yet the push on the controversies by GOP lawmakers makes sense considering Republicans report they are following the stories far more closely than Democrats and independents. And most Americans—74 percent for IRS and 69 percent for Benghazi—insist the scandals are serious enough that they should continue to be investigated.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.