Poll: Controversies raising doubts about White House ‘honesty’

A new poll finds a trio of controversies raising public concerns about the “honesty” of the Obama administration, even as the president maintains his approval rating.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released late Tuesday shows 55 percent believe the IRS targeting of conservative groups raised questions about the administration’s “overall honesty and integrity.”

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A plurality, 43 percent, believe that the IRS scandal is part of a “widespread effort” on the administration’s part to target political opponents, while 29 percent blame the actions on a few rogue officials.

Fifty-eight percent say the administration’s handling of the attack on the Benghazi, Libya, diplomatic post also raises questions about the honesty of the White House. The same number say the Justice Department’s subpoenaing of reporter email and phone records in national security leak investigations also raises concerns. 

But the poll also finds that the controversies have not damaged President Obama’s personal standing. Obama holds a 48 percent approval rating with 47 percent disapproving. Those numbers match his rating in the same poll taken in April. 

Thirty-three percent say Obama is mainly or totally responsible for the IRS scandal, with 37 percent holding him accountable for the DOJ reporter subpoena controversy. Obama faces the most questions over the Benghazi incident, with 41 percent believing he bears responsibility.

Obama, though, has slipped in his support among independents, with 59 percent disapproving and 28 percent approving.  In January, Obama held a 41-52 net disapproval rating with independent voters.

In January, 45 percent of independent voters gave Obama marks for being “honest and straightforward,” a figure that dropped to 27 percent in the latest poll.

The public believes congressional inquiries into the three controversies are warranted, with 50 percent saying lawmakers are right to probe the issues.  Forty-two percent called the hearings “unfair partisan attacks.”

The poll was conducted from May 30 to June 2 and has a 3 point margin of error.