(CNN) — As a major tea party group plans protests Tuesday at Internal Revenue Service offices across the country Tuesday, a new national poll indicates that the IRS controversy has given the four-year-old movement a shot in the arm.
The week-and-a-half-old controversy, which involves the IRS targeting of tea party and other conservative groups which were seeking tax exempt status, has dominated headlines and put the White House on the defensive.
And according to a CNN/ORC International survey released Monday, it’s also boosted the favorable rating for the tea party movement. Thirty-seven percent of people questioned said they see the tea party in a favorable light, up nine percentage points from CNN’s March poll. But a plurality still view the movement unfavorably.
“Politically, the group that may have benefitted the most from last week’s news is the tea party movement, which may be getting something akin to a ‘sympathy vote’ for being targeted by the highly unpopular IRS,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
The 37% favorable rating for tea party is just one point shy of their all-time high in CNN polling, which they reached twice in 2010, during the heyday of the movement.
But according to the new poll, 45% of the public continues to hold an unfavorable view of the tea party, with just over one in ten saying they don’t have an opinion. The 45% unfavorable rating for the tea party is down five points from a CNN survey from last November.
The IRS scandal is breathing new life into the tea party movement, says Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, a grassroots organization which has been a key player in the rise of the movement.
“You’ve seen a lot more energy and judging from the activity on the social networks, people are pissed off about this,” Kibbe recently told CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta.
Niger Innis of TheTeaPart.net agrees.
“Does this pump additional fuel into our tank? Yes it does,” said Innis last Thursday on Capitol Hill at a tea party news conference on the IRS controversy that drew movement leaders and activists from across the country. At the event, tea party groups shared their stories of what they described as years of harassment from the IRS over their attempts to receive tax exempt status.
Tuesday, the Tea Party Patriots, one of the movement’s largest national groups, plans protests at IRS offices across the country.
The tea party, an anti-big government movement, was formed in early 2009, in opposition to both the Wall Street bailouts put in place by outgoing President George W. Bush and the federal stimulus plan being pushed by incoming President Barack Obama.
The poll was conducted by ORC International for CNN on May 17-18, with 923 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey’s sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.
By Paul Steinhauser – CNN Political Editor
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