Obama losing ground in the war of public opinion over the IRS scandal

by Robert Maynard

As with most of the current scandals hovering over the Obama Administration, they are fighting a two front war over the IRS scandal.  First there is the legal front where they seek to distance themselves from any direct connection to the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS.  This is the easier battle, as it is hard to show direct involvement from the White House in this matter.  The other battle is in the arena of public opinion.  This one is where the Obama Administration seems to be losing ground.  The number of people who believe that the White House directed the IRS targeting of conservative groups is on the rise.  Here are a few excerpts from this CNN article:

A growing number of Americans believe that senior White House officials ordered the Internal Revenue Service to target conservative political groups, according to a new national poll.

And a CNN/ORC International survey released Tuesday morning also indicates that a majority of the public says the controversy, which involves increased IRS scrutiny of tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, is very important to the nation.

As can be expected, there does appear to be a partisan divide:

Republicans argue that the Obama administration used the IRS to intimidate and harass political opponents. Democrats say poor management at the tax agency, rather than political bias, is to blame. Congressional sources on both sides say that interviews with IRS workers so far have found no evidence of political dealings by the White House. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, touting an independent IRS inspector general report, has said the scrutiny appears to have originated with “IRS officials in Cincinnati,” where the agency’s tax exempt division is centered.

Putting partisanship aside, the following question begs for a answer: If “poor management at the tax agency, rather than political bias” was the blame, why were conservatives singled out?  Why was there not a more random distristribution of targeted groups?  Pondering this question might be what is behind young people and independents turning on the Administration on this issue:

Younger Americans are much less likely than older Americans to believe in White House involvement, and there is, not surprisingly, a partisan divide as well,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “But the Obama administration may be losing independents on this matter. In May, only 36% felt the White House ordered the IRS to target conservative groups; now that number has crossed the 50% threshold.