When the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee quietly released a report on the Friday before Thanksgiving clearing U.S. officials of multiple accusations leveled after the 2012 Benghazi attacks, it didn't exactly capture the public's attention.
Eighty-four percent of Americans said they had heard little or nothing about the report's release, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll. Just 28 percent knew the investigation didn't find evidence of intelligence failures before the attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, or wrongdoing in officials' response to the attacks. A nearly equal 25 percent thought the report found wrongdoing. The remaining 47 percent weren't sure.
Partisanship had a lot to do with people's guesses as to what the report said. Although Republicans were significantly more likely than others to say they had paid at least some attention to the results of the investigation, they were also the most likely to get it wrong, saying by a 10-point margin that it blamed, rather than absolved, U.S. officials. Democrats, by a 20-point margin, said it vindicated the officials, while those independents who offered an opinion were about evenly split.
Opinions on how the Obama administration handled the Benghazi attacks two years ago also remain split along party lines. Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to say the administration deliberately misled the American people, by 79 percent to 19 percent.
The House committee found that early erroneous statements about the attacks by Obama administration officials were caused by conflicting information rather than an attempt at deception.
As recently as this June, most Americans supported further investigation into Benghazi. But while the GOP's interest has long outpaced that of other groups, overall focus on the story has been low for many months. In 2013, a Gallup poll found that just 21 percent of Americans were paying very close attention to congressional hearings on the attacks. By June 2014, the number had edged down to 19 percent.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Nov. 25-26 among U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.