CNN Poll: Obama approval rating unharmed by controversies

Even as his administration has faced intense scrutiny over a trio of controversies, President Obama's approval rating hasn't suffered, according to a new CNN/ORC International poll released Sunday.

Fifty-three percent of Americans said they approve of the job the president is doing, while 45 percent said they disapprove. That's virtually unchanged from an early April survey in which Obama's approval/disapproval split was 51 percent to 47 percent.

The poll is one of the earliest indicators of how Obama's image has been affected during one of the worst weeks of his presidency. As questions about the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups, and  news that the Justice Department secretly obtained journalists' phone records have fueled Republican attacks, the president has been put very much on defense.

More than seven in 10 Americans said the IRS actions were unacceptable; 55 percent said they believe the agency acted on it own, while 37 percent said it acted under the order of White House officials. The White House has said Obama did not learn of the episode until he read about it in news reports.

The good news for Obama is that 61 percent said they believe that what the president said about the IRS matter is mostly or completely true. The good news for the GOP is that 54 percent said they think congressional Republicans are reacting appropriately to the episode.

The CNN poll was conducted on Friday and Saturday.

According to a Gallup poll released last week, interest in the IRS scandal and the controversy over Benghazi remains below average when it comes to major news stories. The findings mirrored a Pew Research Center survey which showed relatively few people are following the Benghazi controversy closely.

-- Aaron Blake contributed to this report.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan · May 19, 2013