It’s difficult to recall a scandal handled as badly as the exposure of IRS targeting conservative groups — unless it’s the scandal of Department of Justice snooping on reporters and having an Attorney General lie to Congress about his involvement in it, which has made federal law enforcement entirely suspect.  Small wonder, then, that 76% of respondents in Quinnipiac’s latest poll want a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS:

Three-quarters of U.S. voters want a special prosecutor to investigate the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of Tea Party groups, according to a poll that showed a drop in PresidentBarack Obama’s approval and trust ratings.

In the survey released today by Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University, registered voters favored a special prosecutor by 76 percent to 17 percent. Those backing such a move included 63 percent of Democrats.

“There is overwhelming bipartisan support for an independent investigation into the IRS,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac polling institute, said in a news release.

Congress would prefer to hang onto investigative power themselves.  The legislative branch has the authority and the responsibility to investigate malfeasance in the executive branch, and Capitol Hill has just gotten started.  If prosecutions become necessary, then a special prosecutor will probably be necessary, especially with the Department of Justice’s scandals expanding from the top down.  Until then, though, Congress should stay on the job and uncover the evidence itself.

When these scandals first appeared, administration apologists called them overblown and repeatedly asserted that they would collapse and bite Republicans on the rear end.  As evidence for this analysis, they pointed to Barack Obama’s steady job approval numbers in the first couple of weeks of the scandal coverage.  However, Quinnipiac now shows that Obama’s job approval has gone underwater for the first time in a while, and the biggest hit comes from independent voters:

President Barack Obama gets a negative 45 – 49 percent job approval rating, compared to 48 – 45 percent positive in a May 1 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University, conducted before the IRS allegations surfaced.

The president’s biggest drop is among independent voters, who give him a negative 37 – 57 percent score, compared to a negative 42 – 48 percent May 1. He gets a negative 9 – 86 percent from Republicans and a positive 87 – 8 percent from Democrats, both virtually unchanged. Women approve 49 – 45 percent while men give a negative 40 – 54 percent score.

And it’s not just job approval, either.  Obama’s reserve of trust with voters has declined significantly as well as the scandals take a toll on perceptions of his integrity:

Americans are divided 49 – 47 percent on whether Obama is honest and trustworthy, down from 58 – 37 percent, the last time Quinnipiac University asked the question September 1, 2011.

Obama has lost independents on this question, which break significantly towards mistrust, 40/56.  The worst overall number Obama had on this question over the last three years was 55/38 in September 2010 just before the midterms that he lost by a landslide.

Speaking of which, the generic Congressional ballot in the Q-poll puts Republicans in a tie with Democrats 38/38, with independents breaking Republican by 13 points, 36/23.  It’s the lowest rating in the Quinnipiac series for Democrats in two years, and with Obama’s numbers sliding, it’s not likely to improve soon.