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Obama weathering controversies; tea party favorability rises: poll

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New numbers from CNN show that President Obama is weathering a recent spate of controversies while the favorability of the tea party has ticked up in the wake of revelations that the IRS heavily scrutinized conservative groups applying for nonprofit status in recent years.

CNN reported Sunday that Mr. Obama has a 53 percent approval rating, up from 51 percent in April before revelations of the IRS issue and the disclosure that the Justice Department obtained phone call listings from members of the Associated Press.

Fifty-five percent say that the IRS controversy is very important to the nation, the same number who say the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012 that left four Amricans dead, and the administration’s response, is a very important issue. Fifty-three said the same for the AP case.

That compares to a 65 percent mark for the Watergate scandal that sunk the presidency of Richard M. Nixon and 58 percent for the Iran-Contra weapons deal with Iran under the Reagan administration.

But numbers released late Monday also shows the anti-tax, anti-big government tea party movement with a 37 percent favorability rating, compared to 45 percent of respondents who have an unfavorable opinion of it. That’s a marked improvement from a 28/48 favorable/unfavorable split in March and a 31/51 split in August 2011 at the height of the debt ceiling crisis.

The poll of 923 adults was taken May 17-18 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points. Among the sample, 33 percent self-identified as Democrats, 24 percent as Republicans, and 43 percent as independent/other.

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