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The good news – and the bad news – for Obama in scandal-tinged polls

President Obama's approval rating has not slipped in public opinion polls despite a trio of political scandals. But most Americans don't think much of the way the administration has handled the issues, and they believe further investigation is justified.

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For now, as the headline on an AP story puts it, “Obama agenda seems to be weathering controversies.”

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“Despite Democratic fears, predictions of the demise of President Barack Obama's agenda appear exaggerated after a week of cascading controversies, political triage by the administration and party leaders in Congress and lack of evidence to date of wrongdoing close to the Oval Office,” writes AP special correspondent David Espo.

That could change, of course, given the possibility of new revelations, Republican intransigence, or both. GOP leaders certainly spun it in that direction on the TV news shows Sunday.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the IRS scandal – singling out tea party and other conservative groups for special scrutiny of their tax status – was part of a broader "culture of intimidation" within the Obama administration.

To what extent are Americans paying attention to all of this?

“Slim majorities of Americans are very or somewhat closely following the situations involving the Internal Revenue Service (54 percent) and the congressional hearings on the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and its aftermath (53 percent) … well below the average for news stories Gallup has tracked over the years,” writes Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor in chief.

CNN’s numbers here seem more troubling for the White House.

More than 70 percent of those surveyed say IRS targeting of conservative groups was unacceptable; a majority (52 percent) say the Justice Department's actions regarding the AP phone records were unacceptable; 59 percent say the US government could have prevented the attack in Benghazi; and a large minority (44 percent) say statements made by the Obama administration soon after the attack “were an attempt to intentionally mislead the public.”

At this point, according to CNN, most Americans do not think Republicans have overplayed their hand on either the Benghazi or IRS controversies. Gallup finds that 74 percent on the IRS and 69 percent on Benghazi find these situations “serious enough to warrant continuing investigation.”

"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," says CNN polling director Keating Holland.


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