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Fox News Poll: Obama ratings suffer as scandals continue

President Barack Obama’s job rating remains upside-down -- no big change there.  Yet for the first time in a Fox News poll, more than half of voters find Obama unlikeable. 

In addition, only about a third of voters say they trust the federal government, and most want Congress to continue to investigate Benghazi, the IRS, the government’s electronic surveillance program and the Justice Department’s monitoring of journalists.

The new Fox News national poll of registered voters was released Tuesday.

More voters disapprove than approve of Obama’s job performance on every issue save one:  terrorism (on that the president receives positive marks -- 52 percent approve, while 41 percent disapprove). 

In contrast, majorities disapprove of his handling of the deficit (63 percent disapprove), the economy (58 percent), gun control (57 percent), health care (55 percent) immigration (53 percent) and foreign policy (50 percent). 

Voters are also unhappy with the president’s handling of the National Security Agency’s surveillance (61 percent disapprove) and the treatment of conservative groups by the IRS (55 percent). 

Overall, Obama’s job rating is underwater by eight percentage points:  43 percent of voters approve and 51 percent disapprove of his performance.  That’s close to his previous rating of 44-50 percent in mid-June.  A year ago the president’s rating was in positive territory: 48-43 percent (June 2012).

Approval of the president has rarely been lower among Democrats (78 percent) and liberals (73 percent).  And Obama’s 31 percent approval among independents matches previous lows established August and September 2011. 

Meanwhile, the president’s personal popularity is down to 47 percent favorable.  And at 51 percent unfavorable, this is the first time more than half of voters have had a negative opinion of Obama. 

The negative sentiment carries beyond the White House: 71 percent think the government in Washington has too much power, and 62 percent say they don’t trust the federal government -- matching a previous record high (July 2011).

Seventy-seven percent give a thumbs-down to Congress.  Just 15 percent of voters approve of the job lawmakers are doing.  Approval of Congress hit a record low 10 percent in August 2011.

Even so, there’s consensus that Congress should continue to investigate the IRS targeting of conservative groups (73 percent), the administration’s handling of Benghazi (71 percent), the NSA collecting the phone and Internet records of Americans (71 percent) and the Justice Department monitoring of certain journalists (70 percent).

Majorities say these scandals have weakened their faith in the federal government:  60 percent feel that way about the IRS, 59 percent about the NSA, 54 percent about the DOJ and 53 percent about Benghazi. 

About 4 voters in 10 say the IRS (41 percent) and NSA (39 percent) controversies have weakened their faith in government “a lot.”

Some 22 percent think the IRS should be abolished, yet twice as many say it needs major reorganization, but shouldn’t be abolished (44 percent).  Another 25 percent think the agency only needs “minor” changes, while 5 percent say leave it as is. 

Republicans (31 percent) are nearly three times as likely as Democrats (11 percent) to favor abolishing the IRS.  On the other hand, Democrats (38 percent) are more than twice as likely as Republicans (16 percent) and independents (17 percent) to think only “minor” changes are needed. 

Pluralities of independents (49 percent), Republicans (47 percent) and Democrats (41 percent) agree a major reorganization is better than abolishing the IRS.

Poll Pourri

By a 69-19 percent margin, voters think Obama should have ordered a military response to help the Americans at the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya on the night of the attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.  That includes almost all Republicans (88 percent), most independents (71 percent) and just over half of Democrats (52 percent).  In addition, 75 percent of veterans think Obama should have sent troops. 

Most voters -- 82 percent -- think the Founding Fathers would disapprove of how things are going in Washington these days, and 77 percent believe the United States would be a better country if we followed the ideas of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution more closely.

Which is scarier?  Nearly twice as many voters say they would fear a knock on their door more from the IRS (55 percent) than the local police (28 percent).

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,012 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from June 22 to June 24.  The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.