Obama's Approval Rating Survives Scandal Week

The Atlantic
Obama's Approval Rating Survives Scandal Week

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Obama's Approval Rating Survives Scandal Week

Here's one place where the president didn't have a dramatic week: in his approval ratings. According to two polls — the Gallup daily tracking poll, and a CNN/ORC International poll released Sunday — Obama's approval rating has more or less remained steady as potential scandal upon potential scandal blew up the news cycle. 

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First, here's CNN's poll, conducted over May 17-18. According to their survey, Obama's approval rating is at 53 percent. While that's a two percent rise since early April, the difference is within the margin of error of the survey, so we'll say that the president's approval rating here remained steady. Forty-five percent of Americans, meanwhile, disapprove of the job the president's doing. 

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Gallup's results are similar. Right now, the president is registering a 50 percent approval rating, with a slight increase over the course of Scandal Week that's within the survey's margin of error. Here's Gallup's tracking polls, graphed, since the end of April 2013: 

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But that doesn't mean Americans aren't paying attention to the administration's troubles this week. While a separate Gallup poll this week found that American attention to the Benghazi and IRS stories this week was actually below average for other news stories they've tracked, most Americans (54 percent for IRS and 53 percent for Benghazi) were following the stories either "very" or "somewhat" closely, and most (74 percent and 69 percent, respectively) believe both stories warrant further investigation. In the CNN poll, majorities of respondents believing the IRS and Benghazi stories (55 percent) are important to the nation, while 53 percent would say the same about the AP phone records story.

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One further note: according to CNN's results, it looks like Americans are are at least a little less likely to buy that the Benghazi and IRS stories represent the exposure of a conspiracy on the part of the White House: While a majority (53 percent) of Americans are dissatisfied with the president's handling of the Benghazi attacks and the ensuing political aftermath, 50 percent believe that the administration's inaccurate statements after the attack represented what they believed had happened at the time. Forty-four percent believe the administration intentionally misled the American public. Similarly, 55 percent of Americans believed the IRS acted on its own to target "Tea Party" and "Patriot" groups for extra scrutiny, while 37 percent thought the agency was acting under the White House's orders. 

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