The percentage of people who think that the IRS story is very important dropped from 55% to 51% in the last month, sure – but in that same time period the reaction to it has solidified. Half the country thinks that the IRS was ordered by the White House to target conservative groups. And guess what? It’s including parts of the country that the administration was kind of hoping wouldn’t be susceptible:
“Younger Americans are much less likely than older Americans to believe in White House involvement, and there is, not surprisingly, a partisan divide as well,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “But the Obama administration may be losing independents on this matter. In May, only 36% felt the White House ordered the IRS to target conservative groups; now that number has crossed the 50% threshold.”
Now, whether or not the perception that the IRS was directed by the White House to target conservative groups is true or not depends, I think, on the definition of ‘White House.’ I think that Barack Obama has enough cunning to avoid giving a direct order. I hope that his immediate staff is similarly not crazy-stupid-insane. But I expect that somebody in the Executive Branch has his or her fingertips all over this; such things occur when the President does not have a competent Chief of Staff, which has been a perennial problem for this administration. Mind you, when it does come out a lot of people aren’t going to make distinctions that fine-grained. Which is, I guess, the point.
PS: To be fair to Plouffe: polls can be wrong. But I think that it’s funny how fast somebody can flip from Look at the people trying to explain away the poll demographics to Man, those poll demographics are flawed. And the other way around, to be sure.