(CNN) - American voters dislike a politician who abuses official power more than an elected official caught in an extra-marital affair, according to a new national poll.
The Tuesday release of the Quinnipiac University survey comes one day after newly-elected GOP Rep. Vance McAllister of Louisiana apologized after a local newspaper published what it said was a surveillance video of the married congressman kissing a female staffer.
In the poll, Quinnipiac asks questions about James Miller, a fictional congressman whose "main concern in office is developing policies to help middle-class, working families." Eighty-three percent of those surveyed said they had a very or somewhat favorable opinion of Miller, who was not identified as either a Democrat or Republican, was described as 53, married with two children. And 65% said they would definitely or probably vote for his re-election.
When voters are told that Miller was "unfaithful to his wife with another woman," his favorable rating drops to 36% and only 39% say they would vote re-election.
But Miller's numbers drop even further when voters are told that "Miller created a new, well-paid position on his staff in order to hire an unqualified family member as a favor." Only 22% said they had a favorable opinion of the fictional congressman and only 24% said they would vote for his re-election.
"Voters clearly see a difference between personal and official scandals. Committing adultery is far less damaging to a politician than abusing their office," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
"Whether it was adultery or abuse of power, our scandal-ridden politician was unable to secure a majority for reelection, reflecting an underlying reluctance on the part of American voters to support transgressors," Malloy added.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted March 26-31, with 1,578 registered voters nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.
CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report