Poll: Tea Party approval rises amid IRS scandal

A new poll shows a rise in approval for the Tea Party movement, amid a growing scandal over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups.

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A CNN/ORC poll released Monday found 37 percent of those surveyed have a favorable opinion of the Tea Party, up 9 points from their 28 percent positive rating in March.

The 37 percent approval rating is just one percentage point below the movement’s all-time high in CNN/ORC’s polling.

A plurality of respondents, though, still hold an unfavorable view of Tea Party groups. Forty-five percent have a negative view of the movement, but that figure is down 3 points from March.

The poll's findings come after the IRS admitted employees had been applying a higher level of scrutiny to conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status, singling out those with “Tea Party” or “patriot” in their names.

"Politically, the group that may have benefitted the most from last week's news is the Tea Party movement, which may be getting something akin to a 'sympathy vote' for being targeted by the highly unpopular IRS," CNN polling director Keating Holland.

President Obama has criticized the IRS actions as “outrageous” and last week accepted the resignation of acting IRS Director Steven Miller. Congress has vowed to hold investigations into the IRS's conduct.

A number of GOP lawmakers have questioned whether the targeting was directed by senior Treasury or White House officials and want answers on what steps were taken to stop the misconduct.

On Monday, Obama press secretary Jay Carney said that chief of staff Denis McDonough and other senior officials were aware of the findings of a Treasury inspector general report, but elected not to inform the president.

Carney defended the move, saying the White House did not want to provide the impression they were interfering in an ongoing investigation.

Also on Monday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and ranking Republican Orrin Hatch (Utah) called on the IRS to provide more information related to the additional scrutiny applied to Tea Party groups.

The CNN/ORC poll was conducted from May 17-18 among 923 adults. The poll had a 3-point margin of error.