Americans Don't Know What To Think About The Benghazi Committee

What they say about the investigation depends on how you ask.
Polls show that Americans generally think the House Select Committee on Benghazi has gone too far. 
Polls show that Americans generally think the House Select Committee on Benghazi has gone too far. 

Americans generally think that the House Select Committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks has gone too far. But their exact reaction depends on how the question is asked. Some polls find that a majority of Americans think that it's a fair and honest investigation, others show relatively split opinions, and still others show that a majority believe the committee is politically motivated.

In short: It really is impossible to know what the public thinks of the committee's work.

Just take a look at these surveys.

There are two main takeaways here: Collectively, the polls do show that Americans for the most part think the committee is motivated by politics. But if you look at the varied individual polls, they indicate the public doesn't know enough about the investigation to form an opinion and instead is answering based on the wording and framing of questions or relying on partisan beliefs.

CNN/ORC asked the question in two different ways and got two different responses. In one variation, it asked if the committee is "conducting an objective investigation" or if it's being used as a means "to gain political advantage." Seventy-two percent answered "to gain political advantage." In a second variation, they asked if "Republicans have gone too far" or if they've "handled the hearings appropriately." Fifty-one percent sided with the committee, answering that it had handled the hearings appropriately.

Monmouth University made mention of Clinton's email use in its question, a subject most Americans have grown tired of. ABC/Post asked if Republicans are "raising legitimate concerns" or if they are "mainly trying to damage Hillary Clinton." Both polls resulted in the majority answering that the committee was motivated to go after Clinton.

Comparatively, AP-GFK poll asked if the investigation is a "justified attempt to find out what happened." A majority answered that the committee was in the right.

On the other hand, questions that were more open-ended, in which an undecided or neutral option was explicitly offered, like the NBC/WSJ and YouGov polls, produced answers that were more evenly divided across the board.

Polls for which cross tabs were available (Monmouth, CNN/ORC and YouGov ) unsurprisingly showed a clear partisan divide in which a majority of Republicans sided with the committee's intentions. Monmouth University found that 57 percent of Republicans supported the committee's investigation to "learn the facts," while only 10 percent of Democrats said the same.

Similarly, the CNN poll found that 74 percent of Republicans thought the committee had handled the hearings appropriately, while only 20 percent of Democrats said the same. The YouGov poll found that only 12 percent of Republicans think the committee is politically motivated, compared to 50 percent of Democrats.

On Thursday, the House Select Committee on Benghazi spent hours questioning Clinton on her role in the 2012 Benghazi attack.

Hillary Clinton