CNN poll: 59% approve of GOP handling of Benghazi scandal

Last week, voices in the media began warning Republicans about overreaching on scandal investigations involving the IRS and especially Benghazi.  Beware of the backlash! came the whispers among Republicans, and predictions of political damage came from other quarters.  According to a new CNN poll, however, the investigation into Benghazi polls higher than most other Republican initiatives have in the last several years — and even better than the opening round of the probe into the IRS scandal (via John Nolte at Breitbart):

But a CNN/ORC International survey released Sunday morning also indicates that congressional Republicans are not overplaying their hand when it comes to their reaction to the three controversies that have consumed the nation’s capital over the past week and a half. And the poll finds that a majority of Americans take all three issues seriously. …

Republicans have ripped the administration for not providing adequate security for the Benghazi mission, botching the response to it, and misleading the public for political gain with the attack coming less than two months before last November’s presidential election.

According to the poll, 44% say statements made by the Obama administration soon after the attack were an attempt to intentionally mislead the public. Half of those questioned say those statements reflected what the Obama administration believed, at the time, had occurred.

But 59% now say that the U.S government could have prevented the attack in Benghazi, up 11 points from last November. And only 37% say that congressional Republicans are overreacting in their handling of the matter, with 59% saying they’ve reacted appropriately.

It’s the same story on the IRS controversy, with 54% saying the GOP in Congress has not overplayed its hand.

The IRS scandal registers very high across the board with Americans.  More than half (55%) consider it “very important,” with the same percentage among independents and 69% of Republicans agreeing.  Only 46% of Democrats agree that it’s very important, but when combined with “somewhat important,” the numbers tend to get pretty close — 79% of Democrats, 87% of independents, and 90% of Republicans.  The same pattern holds up for the AP scandal, even before the revelation about Rosen, with 86% of Democrats, 84% of independents, and 93% of Republicans considering it very or somewhat important.

That’s certainly not the case with Benghazi.  More than seven in ten Democrats pronounce themselves satisfied with the Obama administration’s handling of the issue (72/24), but those numbers flip dramatically among Republicans (13/85) and independents (34/58).  And yet, even among Democrats, only 56% think the GOP is overreacting to the scandal, with 41% saying the reaction is appropriate (independents are 57/33 in favor, Republicans 88/10).  So far, this doesn’t look like an overplay, and at least the IRS and AP scandals may sustain even more aggressive action.

Obama and his team may be having a bigger problem with their I-dunno responses.  While Obama’s approval rating remains steady, the difference between confidence in government vs this government is remarkable.  A majority of Americans feel some or a great deal of confidence in our system of government (56/43), but that changes when CNN asks about the people running the government now.  It flips to 43/56, with only 8% expressing a “great deal” of confidence.  Only 15% of Democrats feel a “great deal” of confidence in the current federal government and just 68/32 when including “some” confidence.  Among Republicans, it’s an unsurprising 26/74, but more problematically for Democrats, independents break 36/64 — a huge vote of no confidence in current leadership.

What’s more, the push for more investigation on all three fronts will probably produce even more data to make confidence decline in the current administration.  As it does, the big-government agenda will lose more and more credibility.