WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — Regardless of party affiliation, a large majority of Americans believe that the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups was politically-motivated.

According to a CBS News/New York Times poll released on Thursday, 68 percent of adults — 80 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents — said they think the IRS targeting was motivated by politics, and not adherence to tax code policy.

The nationwide telephone survey was conducted on both landlines and cellphones with 1,022 American adults.

Overall, four in 10 (including two-thirds of Democrats) think the IRS acted on its own in investigating the conservative groups while slightly more (including seven in 10 Republicans) said they believe the Obama administration was involved.

One-quarter of those surveyed said they support the Tea Party, and were especially likely to label the added scrutiny as illegal behavior. Nearly four in 10 (39 percent) of Republicans and Tea Party supporters said they believe the IRS engaged in illegal activities, in comparison to just 21 percent of Democrats and 33 percent of self-reported independent voters.

And Tea Party supporters appear unwilling to let the IRS’ behavior go unnoticed.

Tea Party supporters said they are paying particularly close attention to the issue: 76 percent said they are tuned into developments, and 38 percent said they are following it very closely.

Only 16 percent of Democrats said they are following media coverage of the issue very closely.


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