Reignited Benghazi Debate Doesn’t Sway Public Opinion

Congressional Republicans’ renewed focus on the 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, has yet to transform the matter into a dominant public concern, according to two new polls.

The surveys show limited interest in what some Republicans are calling an administration cover-up, and what President Barack Obama today called a “political circus.”

Eight months after the Sept. 11 violence that claimed four American lives, the polls by Public Policy Polling and the Pew Research Center offer different pictures of who Americans trust on the issue. In the survey by PPP, a Democratic-oriented firm, respondents said they trust former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton more than Republican lawmakers, 49-39 percent. Among Pew respondents, 37 percent said the Obama administration has been honest in what it’s said about the attacks, while 40 percent said it’s been dishonest.

Pew also found that most Americans — 56 percent — say they aren’t following the investigation. A majority of PPP respondents said Congress should focus on issues besides Benghazi. Immigration and gun background checks were both rated more important.

Clinton’s 52-44 percent  favorable/unfavorable rating was unchanged from March despite congressional testimony last week that reignited the debate, according to PPP.

Congressional Republicans “remain very unpopular” with a 36-57 percent approval/disapproval rating, PPP said. Still, that’s up from a 15-75 percent rating in January following Congress’ fiscal cliff debate. In the Pew poll, 36 percent of voters said Republicans have “gone too far” in the Benghazi investigation, while 34 percent approved of their approach.

Among Republican respondents to PPP, 41 percent said they consider Benghazi “the biggest political scandal in American history.” Of those voters, 39 percent couldn’t identify the country where Benghazi is located.

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