Poll: Voters dislike politicians who abuse power more than those who cheat
April 8th, 2014
11:45 AM ET
6 months ago

Poll: Voters dislike politicians who abuse power more than those who cheat

(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


Filed under: Polls
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. The Real Tom Paine

    Oh yes, Tommy G, Democrats have invented and perfected every form of cheating, broken every law, and are ready to be arrested for things they have not even invented yet. Another psychotic rant from a mouth-breathing Neanderthal who will recreate the historical record on politicians cheating just to reassure himself that he is a member of a party that practices absolute moral purity in everything, even when the lead story in the ticker is about the personal damage a member of the Christian Taliban has inflicted on the husband of one of his staffers, a Representative endorsed by the Robertson clan of " Duck Dynasty" fame. Thread the needle on that little nugget of truth, Tommy, or have you already decided the woman was solely to blame?

    April 8, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    In USA Rethuglicans abused the power more than any other species on earth, ex, WMD. They are just criminals. Even Jesus Christ said the same in Ten Commandments.

    April 8, 2014 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. Hector Slagg

    Holy Smackdown!,
    That includes Obama and all his Liberal Mafia no?

    April 8, 2014 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  4. Tommy G

    Egads people! Warren Harding?!!! Surely you JEST!! We are talking about contemporary history, not ancient history.

    JFK was legendary for his womanizing, Ted Kennedy even killed a woman while he was engaged in womanizing and never served a day in jail and then Bill Clinton, well that is an encyclopedia of womanizing right there.

    Let's face it, men wil power are attractive to some women for various reasons. Some men are able to can handle it and keep their heads screwed on straight and others cannot. It is dangerous IMO however for those types of people to be occupying the White House.

    April 8, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. Name. Gonemad3x

    If he's willing to destroy his family for a piece of tail, he'll sell out voters for less.

    April 8, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  6. Al-NY,NY

    Tommy G
    Egads people! Warren Harding?!!! Surely you JEST!! We are talking about contemporary history, not ancient history.
    ------

    OK, so what about Eisenhower and his driver? Is THAT ancient or contemporary?

    April 8, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  7. Marcus (from...?)

    Tommy G – YOU are the one that wanted to forget the past, 'Bill Clinton SET the precedent for this...', remember?
    We can go way back to the Founding Fathers or just look around in the past, say, five years. It will be the same.
    Just pretend that Clinton started it all, and then try to dodge how easily your rant was discredited by mocking those who proved you wrong is... so typical of you.

    April 8, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. Silence DoGood

    @Name. Gonemad3x
    If he's willing to destroy his family for a piece of tail, he'll sell out voters for less.
    --------–
    But God said it was OK.

    April 8, 2014 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. Brian

    Nothing called an innocent kiss. Probably this was not the first time. Probably it was not just a kiss ?

    April 8, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. somebody

    Tommy G

    < Egads people! Warren Harding?!!! Surely you JEST!! We are talking about
    < contemporary history, not ancient history.

    Egads Tommy. Surely you jest. In your first post you said Bill Clinton set the precedent for this behavior. I suspect you copy/pasted canned talking points without thinking about what you were posting. Saying he set a precedent means the same as saying he was first. Others here are just pointing out that what you said is factually wrong. You were either unaware of previous examples or were willfully ignoring facts that are incompatible with your partisan rants. Thomas Jefferson, our second President, was first.

    < Let's face it, men wil power are attractive to some women for various reasons.
    < Some men are able to can handle it and keep their heads screwed on straight
    < and others cannot. It is dangerous IMO however for those types of people to be
    < occupying the White House.

    Men and women without power cheat too. You have no idea whether any of these cases were due to someone in a position of power over another or whether it was genuine mutual attraction. I believe it varies on a case by case basis with each pair of people that are cheating. I feel bad for the Congressman's wife and the staffer's husband.

    April 8, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    Typical that Tommy G looks over the accusations of infidelity against Republicans and dismisses them as irrelevant. I even remember one being leveled against Bush 41, which was absurd, but rumors were out there. The only one we know did not cheat on his wife, or even had the accusation leveled were Nixon and Truman. Virtually every other one had some kind of rumor or accusation presented against them., so to imply that one party or another was the haven for this kind of activity is absurd.

    April 8, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. Marie MD

    So why is the car thief/arsonist still a member of congress? What about little rafaelito, lee, gomer, cantor, etc. still around?

    April 8, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  13. Gurgyl

    These red states idiots are voluntarily stopping Medicaid Expansion to make system go bankrupt. Old people need to understand vote out all Republicans. Period.

    April 8, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. harrisonhits2

    How is this even a question CNN ? If a politician cheats on his wife he"s hurting himself and his family. If he abuses power he's hurting literally millions of people. Its not even a valid comparison.

    April 8, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Malory Archer

    Denise

    Wasn't Ronnie Raygun, patron saint of the righties, with Nacy while still married to Jane? The only reason he divorces Jane was because she won an academy awrd and he was a C lister....

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    And because Nancy (aka the First Homewrecker) was preggers!

    April 8, 2014 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. Sharon Gregory

    Just to put this in perspective: Cheating, whether it be an act against a spouse or stealing money or test answers, etc., is abusing power.

    April 8, 2014 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
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