Fox News poll: IRS targeting intentional act to punish political opponents; most want Congress to continue probe

Two-thirds of American voters (66 percent) think the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups as part of a high-level operation to punish political opponents.  Far fewer -- 23 percent -- think it was a mistake by a handful of lower-level IRS employees.

That’s according to a just-released Fox News poll.

Even Democrats, by a seven percentage-point margin, are more likely to think the targeting was a punitive measure ordered by higher-ups.

In addition, most voters continue to believe the Obama administration knew about (40 percent) or was directly involved in (28 percent) the IRS treating conservative groups unfairly.

That’s little changed from last month when 37 percent thought the administration was aware of the operation and 29 percent thought it was behind it.

The new poll, released Wednesday, finds 24 percent think the administration had “absolutely nothing” to do with what the IRS did.  The same number felt that way last month.

In May the IRS acknowledged it had targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups for special attention when the groups sought tax-exempt status.

Just 11 percent of those who identify with the Tea Party movement believe the White House had nothing to do with it.

More than three-quarters of voters (78 percent) want Congress to continue to investigate the IRS.  That’s a bit higher than the number that thinks Congress should continue to investigate the Justice Department seizing journalists’ records (76 percent) and the Obama administration handling of the attacks in Benghazi (73 percent).

Continuing the investigation into the IRS scandal has widespread support: Almost all Republicans (90 percent), as well as sizable majorities of independents (76 percent) and Democrats (69 percent) agree lawmakers should persist until they feel they know the truth.

Poll Pourri

The IRS is tasked with enforcing rules related to the Affordable Care Act.  In light of the recent scandal, three-quarters of voters (76 percent) want another agency put in charge of enforcing the new health care law.  Eighty-seven percent of Republicans, 72 percent of independents and 69 percent of Democrats agree the IRS should not be in charge.

In general, the poll finds voters oppose Obamacare by a 55-40 percent margin.  That’s little changed from last year when 49 percent opposed the new law and 40 percent favored it (3-5 June 2012).

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,019 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from June 9 to June 11.  The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.