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What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls -- For the Week Ending May 25, 2013

Call it the law of unintended consequences.

Favorables for the Tea Party have jumped since news broke that the Internal Revenue Service was targeting the grassroots movement and other conservative groups. Opinions of the IRS have gone down.

Only 20% of voters believe the IRS’ explanation that low-level employees at its Cincinnati office made the decision to target the conservative groups. Sixty-five percent (65%) think the orders came from Washington, including 39% who believe someone at the White House made the call.

Many expect more bad news to come. Sixty percent (60%) think it’s likely that other government agencies also targeted conservative groups. Perhaps most stunning is the fact that even 37% of Democrats think it’s likely other agencies may have been used to target conservatives.

While the president’s Job Approval rating has held fairly steady despite two weeks of controversies, Scott Rasmussen’s weekly newspaper column shows how “the political ground is shifting under the president’s feet.” He adds, “If you dig just a bit beneath the surface, it becomes clear that the controversies dogging the White House have had an impact.”

Just over half of voters consider all three controversies surrounding the White House to be scandals. Forty-one percent (41%) think the IRS story will still be around a year from now. Slightly more (43%) think there’s a good chance the Obama administration’s handling of the death of the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi, Libya will still be making headlines, too.

The controversies are a major topic on this weekend’s edition of What America ThinksLarry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, joins Scott to discuss how the recent events will impact the president’s agenda and the 2014 mid-term elections.

The weekly television show airs on 64 stations nationwide. Find a station near you.

Despite increased media attention, voter concern about the events in Benghazi remains little changed over the past three weeks. Eighty-one percent (81%) still think it’s important to find out what happened. Thirty-two percent (32%) rate the administration’s explanation as good or excellent. Forty-five (45%) now view that explanation as poor.

The U.S. Justice Department's secret seizure of telephone records from the Associated Press has been drawing a lot of news attention, although voters have mixed feelings about the story. But 52% think the media reacts more quickly to things that affect news organizations, reporters and their friends.

That could spell more bad news for the White House following the disclosure that the Justice Department also secretly obtained the telephone records of a Fox News reporter and his parents. “While the public is not up in arms over this issue, journalists are,” Scott Rasmussen noted in a recent column. “So there is likely to be more aggressive reporting on some of the other challenges facing the White House.” 

With growing questions about Benghazi, the IRS and the Justice Department, Democrats' eight-point lead over Republicans in voter trust in the area of government ethics and corruption has disappeared. Now the president's party trails the GOP by two. The newest finding is the highest level of confidence in Republicans and the lowest level for Democrats since October.

Republicans also have edged ahead of Democrats on the Generic Congressional Ballot for only the second week since Election Day.

Yet for the president and his party, the elephant lurking in the room continues to be the national health care law as it nears full implementation next year. Just over half of voters still view the health care law unfavorably, and most remain adamant that consumers should have choices when it comes to how much health care coverage they want to pay for.

Voters continue to believe raising taxes and increasing government spending are bad for the economy, but 56% expect spending to go up under Obama. Forty-seven percent (47%) think their taxes will go up, too.

Very few Americans think the federal government gives too much financial help to victims of disasters like this week’s Oklahoma tornado, but they’re evenly divided when asked if the government should make cuts elsewhere in the federal budget to offset this aid.

Consumer confidence remains a rare bit of good news for the president: It’s still tracking just below the highest levels in recent years.

Working Americans are pretty satisfied with their jobs, too, from what we can tell. It’s true that 33% work more than 40 hours a week, and only 48% are now happy with the hours they work.

But 64% are generally pleased to tell people where they work.

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Working Adults give their boss or supervisor good or excellent marks. Eighty-seven percent (87%) rate their relationships with coworkers just as positively.

Fifty-eight percent (58%) would continue to work even if they were left a small fortune so that they could make the same amount of money without working. Ninety-one percent (91%) say that, if given the choice, they would stay with a job they love over another job they’d hate that pays 10% more money.

In other surveys last week:

-- Thirty percent (30%) of likely voters think the United States is headed in the right direction, virtually unchanged from a year ago at this time.

-- Forty-eight percent (48%) of Americans are confident in the stability of the U.S. banking industry. By comparison, in July 2008, shortly before the Wall Street meltdown, 68% were confident in U.S. banks.

-- The Federal Reserve Board continues to work hard at keeping the U.S. inflation rate down and interest rates under control, but most Americans expect their grocery prices to keep going up. Forty-four percent (44%) believe interest rates will be higher a year from today.

-- Both current Democratic frontrunners, Christine Quinn and Anthony Weiner, outpace Republican favorite Joseph J. Lhota in Rasmussen Reports’ first look at New York City’s 2013 mayoral race.

-- Among registered New York City Democrats, Quinn leads Weiner 24% to 18%. Democrats pick their mayoral nominee in a September 10 primary.

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Wall Street Journal profile called Scott Rasmussen "America's Insurgent Pollster." The Washington Post described him as "a driving force in American politics."  If you'd like Scott to speak at your conference or event, contact Premiere Speakers Bureau.

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