Obama’s Sinking Numbers

New poll suggests scandals are damaging Obama’s reputation

May 30, 2013

A Quinnipiac University national poll released Thursday suggests that a trio of controversies are beginning to undermine public support of President Barack Obama and his administration.

Forty-nine percent of respondents to the poll gave Obama a negative approval rating, compared to a 48 percent positive rating in a May 1 survey that preceded discovery of the IRS’ intense scrutiny of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.

An overwhelming 76 percent of voters say a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate whether the IRS intentionally targeted conservative groups. Even 63 percent of Democrats agree that a special prosecutor is needed.

In the poll, 44 percent of voters named the IRS probe the most significant of the three controversies, with 24 percent opting for the muddled account of events surrounding the embassy attack in Benghazi, and 15 percent selecting the Justice Department’s seizure of Associated Press phone records.

"It would be naive to think that (these controversies) are not having some effect on his approval ratings," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the university’s Polling Institute, at a press conference.

Seventy-three percent of respondents say that improving the economy and unemployment ranks as a higher priority than investigating the issues.

Political analysts such as Charlie Cook suggested that Republicans could overreach by focusing too much on the controversies and not enough on the public’s chief concern, the economy.

But the poll reveals that increased numbers of voters are displeased with Obama’s performance and unconvinced of his credibility. Forty-nine percent of voters say that Obama is honest and trustworthy, down from 58 percent in a September 2011 poll.

Quinnipiac conducted the poll from May 22 to 28 and surveyed 1,419 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.