Poll: Voters dislike politicians who abuse power more than those who cheat
April 8th, 2014
11:45 AM ET
8 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. Tommy G

    Bill Clinton set the precedent for this with his long history abusing females and continue dit when he got into the White House.. Democrats screamed it was all a personal matter. Given the Demorcat Party's endless cases of mistreating woman, you have to be a total fool to believe their war on woman BS. Democrats are the only ones waging a real war on women, and using them when it is convenient in between all the abuse.

    April 8, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  2. Al-NY,NY

    Tommy G
    Bill Clinton set the precedent for this with his long history abusing females and continue dit when he got into the White House.. Democrats screamed it was all a personal matter. Given the Demorcat Party's endless cases of mistreating woman, you have to be a total fool to believe their war on woman BS. Democrats are the only ones waging a real war on women, and using them when it is convenient in between all the abuse.
    ----

    yeah, Clinton did it, but so did other Democrats and believe it or not...republicans too!!!! Gasp! So according to your logic, the vast majority of women who voted with the Democrats are 1. stupid 2. naive 3. both Please clarify for us. I know Stepford wives (in their aprons, sensible shoes, and pearl necklaces) vote GOP but since they obey their male masters, what do you expect?

    April 8, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  3. Tampa Tim

    Tommy G – Check out Wisconsin republican state assembly Bill Kramer, or go back to ex Sen. Ensign, Vance McCallister, Larry Craig, Mark Sanford, Bob Allen, David Vitter, Mark Foley, Newt Gingrich, and a host of others.

    April 8, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. sonny chapman

    Dang Tommy G, you might of set a record for stringing together Fox News/GOP Soundbites !

    April 8, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Silence DoGood

    @Tommy G
    Bill Clinton set the precedent for this with his long history abusing females and continue dit when he got into the White House.. Democrats screamed it was all a personal matter. Given the Demorcat Party's endless cases of mistreating woman, you have to be a total fool to believe their war on woman BS. Democrats are the only ones waging a real war on women, and using them when it is convenient in between all the abuse.
    --------------
    Clinton, like various politicians have cheated in their marriage. He lied about it and that was wrong in my opinion. He got exposed for it.

    The radical religious right wing religious extremists have embarked on a specific program of promoting specific moral laws regulating and restricting the rights of people of faiths different than theirs. The ultimate goal as has been stated, is to convert the entire country into a Christian nation, a Theocracy. Like Iran. Telling women what to do in their private life and whom they may not marry is just the start.

    There is a glaring and obvious difference that educated people with a sense of history can see.

    April 8, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. salty dog

    I think most Democrats and Republicans disliked what Clinton did Tommy, but its certainly not a partisan issue, we've got a fresh Republican on the hook today, tomorrow may be a Democrat, you can't identify a party by these issues . They all stink.

    April 8, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Tommy G

    Bill Clinton set the precedent for this with his long history abusing females and continue dit when he got into the White House.. Democrats screamed it was all a personal matter. Given the Demorcat Party's endless cases of mistreating woman, you have to be a total fool to believe their war on woman BS. Democrats are the only ones waging a real war on women, and using them when it is convenient in between all the abuse.
    ------------------------
    Well, since you want to go there, then I'm forced to point out Richard M. Nixon has Clinton beat in spades. Nixon set the precedent for abuse of power and being disliked by the public. Furthermore, before all is said and done, Republicans just may have to add Dick Cheney to top of the list for unprecedent abuse of power, if they ever want to see the inside of the White House again.

    April 8, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Denise

    Karma is a great thing though. Bill was impeached BUT Newtie and Bobby had to resign in disgrace for yep, you guessed it, their cheatin hearts.....

    April 8, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. The REAL Truth...

    @Tommy G – Democrats are the only ones waging a real war on women, and using them when it is convenient in between all the abuse.
    ------------------------------
    Keep parroting the BS.. the war on women is dictating women's reproductive rights, repeal of ACA, repeal of RvW, no abortion, 2nd class citizen status or dictating whom to vote for, subjugation a la religious rulings, legitimate rape, re-election of admitted adulterers, and so on.
    Bill Clinton certainly doesn't have a lock on it.. but you can't admit it.

    April 8, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    That is obviously untrue........as the Dems have been abusing power, left and right, and people still vote for them.

    April 8, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  11. Andrea

    Clinton is a cheater and Obama abuses power so this guy is a drop in the bucket!

    April 8, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. Marcus (from...?)

    Tommy G – cheating husbands have always been around in politics. Harding (Warren G., the 29th POTUS) for example or some even further back. But is Warren G. Harding remembered today solely because of his infidelities? Or does those infidelities have the major weight on his legacy? Just like the ones before and after him, no. Unless his infidelities were all that he left behind after he was done with his political career.

    April 8, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  13. Al-NY,NY

    Andrea
    Clinton is a cheater and Obama abuses power so this guy is a drop in the bucket!
    -------

    Newter is a cheater and Duh Duh Duh-bya abused power......nah nah...I told you

    April 8, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. The REAL Truth...

    @Rick McDaniel – That is obviously untrue........as the Dems have been abusing power, left and right, and people still vote for them.
    -----------------------------–
    People still vote for the GOP too. And speaker of abuse, they have abused redistricting and gerrymandering to ensure gains in the House, even though they received close to 2 MILLION less votes than their Dem counterparts in 2010. They will try the same approach during the mid-terms..

    April 8, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  15. Malory Archer

    Andrea

    Clinton is a cheater and Obama abuses power so this guy is a drop in the bucket!

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

    There are plenty of reds who are "cheaters", and President Obama looks like a saint compared to the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's puppets and handlers.

    p.s. I only brought up the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue because you brought up HIS predecessor.

    April 8, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  16. Dead Bear

    @Tommy G... Your attempted argument that your party holds the moral high ground in regards to woman lost all credibility when you cited Bill Clinton as the first and only womanizer to ever be President. You may be shocked to know that Warren Harding, a Republican, was a notorious womanizer (an abuser of power as well). Although it is painfully clear that most in the GOP are unable to comprehend much less learn anything from history, I'd still suggest informing yourself on the subject first before you make such outlandish and laughable assertions.

    April 8, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  17. Malory Archer

    There are plenty of reds who are "cheaters", and President Obama looks like a saint compared to the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's puppets and handlers.

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

    that should have been "puppet masters and handlers".

    April 8, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  18. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    And while we're talking about cheating Presidents let us not forget Thomas Jefferson and JFK.....

    April 8, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  19. TONE

    @Tommy G

    Bill Clinton set the precedent for this with his long history abusing females and continue dit when he got into the White House.. Democrats screamed it was all a personal matter. Given the Demorcat Party's endless cases of mistreating woman, you have to be a total fool to believe their war on woman BS. Democrats are the only ones waging a real war on women, and using them when it is convenient in between all the abuse

    So a republican fornicate, and then all of sudden is Bill Clinton's fault why is it that republicans never take any responsibility for their actions always blaming some one else how pathetic Nov 2014 cannot come fast enough, i am fired up to vote and will not be stopped.

    April 8, 2014 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    "Bill Clinton set the precedent for this"

    Yeah, he was totes the first US politician to cheat, commit adultery and/or get randy in an unacceptable manner...totes mcgoats. Everyone else is just so confused and well, you know, monkey see monkey do, right?

    April 8, 2014 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  21. Beth

    Cheating is usually an issue of immorality, while abuse of power is unethical. If black and white, an ethical issue would be directly related to their position and responsibilities, and would subsequently be more concerning to the public. However, as has been demonstrated far too often, humans operate in the gray, and moral flaws and ethical issues usually occur in tandem.

    Although our elected officials are human and prone to mistakes, I'm believe it is fair to expect them to operate within the confines of the following honor code:

    I do not lie. I do not cheat. I do not steal.

    April 8, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. 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.....How many times has Boss Hogg been married? My educated guess is that he was still married to wife #1 while looking for wife # 2 and so on, ya think?

    April 8, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  23. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    The more we know, the more we get to really know our jailers (I mean keepers). They've either been in power so long, or ran over everyone they could run over to attain power, that it's laughable to think anyone out here that's an adult wouldn't understand why these creeps believe and do what they do. Let me spell it out for those with no brain. It's all about power and money. They want it all, and the dumbest among us have been glad to oblige. WAKE UP.

    April 8, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. Denise

    Thank goodness, they're with women finally and not playing footsie in a toilet stall with an undercover male officer.....

    April 8, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    LOL. That picture of Huckabee below cracks me up...looks like he's grunting one out in his suit. One word, Huck: prunes.

    April 8, 2014 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
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