July 20th, 2009
10:55 AM ET
12 years ago

Poll: Only 3 in 10 have favorable opinion of Ensign

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/20/art.ensignthink0720.gi.jpg caption="A new poll suggests that only three in ten Nevada voters hold a favorable opinion of Senator John Ensign."]
(CNN) - A new poll suggests that only three in ten Nevada voters hold a favorable opinion of Senator John Ensign, although most don't want Ensign to resign in the wake of his confession of an extra marital affair with a former staffer. But when the poll, conducted by Mason-Dixon for the Las Vegas Journal Review, asked whether Ensign should run for re-election, less than half the respondents said they would like to see his name on the ballot again when his current term expires.

The poll indicates that 31 percent have an unfavorable opinion of Nevada's junior senator, down eight points from June survey taken immediately after Ensign's admission, and down 22 points from May.

Ensign announced on June 16 that he had had a nine-month extramarital affair with a woman who worked on his campaign staff. Ensign said the relationship ended last August. The woman's husband worked in Ensign's Senate office.

"The Mason-Dixon poll indicates that the circumstances surrounding the affair, rather than the affair itself, are what bother Nevada voters," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Only three in ten say that the fact that Ensign had an affair is a very serious matter. But twice as many feel that way when told that the affair was with his wife's best friend, and half feel the same when told that the woman in question was the wife of a top Senate aide."

"Nevadans also seem bothered by the disconnect between Ensign's behavior and the image he presented to the public before the affair was public knowledge," Holland adds. "The poll asked respondents to react to this statement: "Ensign had an affair although he is a member of the family values group Promise Keepers." Fifty-eight percent of Nevadans say that they view that very seriously."
Ensign has stated that he has no intention of resigning his seat and says he will run for re-election in 2012. Those plans are getting mixed reviews from his constituents.

Fifty four percent of those questioned say they don't think Ensign should resign - still a majority but down from 62 percent last month. But running again is another matter. Forty-five percent say that Ensign should seek re-election; 43 percent say he should not.

"That's not good news for Ensign," Holland says. "An incumbent is usually considered to be in trouble if a question on re-election doesn't get support from at least 50 percent of his constituents. It looks like a lot of Nevada voters are OK with the idea of Ensign finishing out his term as long as he calls it quits after that."

Ensign's faced mounting pressure following revelations earlier this month that parents paid the family of his former mistress close to $100,000 after she was no longer working for the senator. A lawyer for Ensign said the payments were legally made as "gifts, accepted as gifts and complied with tax rules governing gifts."

The Mason Dixon/Las Vegas Journal Review poll was conducted July 14-15, with 400 Nevada voters questioned by telephone. The survey sampling error is plus or minus five percentage points.

Filed under: John Ensign • Nevada • Poll
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Jeff Brown

    Buh Bye!

    July 20, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. GI Joe

    He needs to go -- NOW. He demanded it from others, he is not ordained by God to set himself above others, as he's being taught at C-Street.

    July 20, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. demwit

    More tabloid news from CNN's best team in politics. And yet they still wonder why ratings are soooo low...

    July 20, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  4. Scott, Tucson

    What are the Nevada poll numbers for Harry Reid??

    July 20, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  5. Larry

    That will be one less Senate seat taken up by a Republican in 2012.

    July 20, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    "Ensign had an affair although he is a member of the family values group Promise Keepers."

    Enough said. He should resign. The hypocracy alone makes him untrustworthy. If I were a Nevadan, he definitely wouldn't get my vote.

    July 20, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  7. Lisa in Shelton

    after mercilessly deriding Larry Craig and others embroiled in sex scandals, and at a time when he himself was just as guilty but still in hiding – he has a lot of nerve holding himself to a lesser standard now that he's caught! And the dicey large cash gifts each of his parents made to 4 of the five family members of the girlfriend – cast this in an even stranger light. Why no gifts before the scandal they wanted to keep out of the news?

    July 20, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  8. GOP = Party of Family Values

    Ensign is the most hypocritical politician in America with David Vitter a close second. His holier-than-thou partisan attacks on other politicians for marital indiscretions are disgusting. Nevada is getting exactly what they deserve if they are stupid enough to re-elect this bozo.

    July 20, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. Limbaugh is a liberal

    The republicans continue to find scapegoats for why they have fallen behind in polls. But it's not their hypocritic moral failings. It is because they are lazy whining parrots of Rush Limbaugh with no ideas of their own. Their 'alternate' budget plan was a 16 page outline with no numbers. NO NUMBERS! In a BUDGET plan! Their 'alternate' health care plan was a 3 page outline with no cost estimates, and 80% of its points were stolen verbatim from Obama's plan. Perhaps when republicans start doing the job they are paid for and actually come up with viable ideas people will start listening to them. Until then they deserve to be ignored.

    July 20, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  10. pam Eugene OR

    He is the worst kind of man. Why did he have to cheat with a friend's wife?
    That tells he has no honor and I would not want him to represent me!

    July 20, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  11. dominican mama 4 Obama

    These politicians need to stop criticizing Pres. Obama and tear a page out of his book vis-a-vis how to be good family men, have good morals, and start doing what is good for their constituents versus themselves. IMHO.

    July 20, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  12. Dave

    Maybe only 3 in 10, but you only need one to have an affair senator.

    July 20, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  13. Peter E

    Yawn! Who cares if politicians are cheating on their wives or are having homosexual encounters. They all do! Meanwhile the health care crisis keeps growing, much to the delight of greedy health insurance companies. And the only thing they keep harping on with Sotomayor is a few poorly worded comments because they were all too lazy to actually read her quite questionable judicial record.
    I wish I was a congressman. I would rake in millions in bribes from corporations and do 24 hours of work a week, 7 weeks a year too!

    July 20, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. GI Joe

    Mommy and Daddy paid blackmail to try to keep his secrets. Ensign also hired his mistresses son and husband and paid them with money he should not have used to keep "her" around.


    July 20, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  15. daunt

    Senator John Ensign (R NV) – You hypocrite, you self rightious fool!
    You cast the first stone, so i'm throwing it back.

    July 20, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  16. Obama Victim

    interesting situation here.....in a previous story, the polls show Obozo is slipping.............The obozobots goes crazy and talk about how un-important polls are..............yet, a repub has low poll numbers and they all go crazy that he has to go............you people are so phony it is pathetic

    July 20, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. GOP = Party of Hypocrisy

    Doug, New Jersey - you don't get it.
    This isn't partisan and It's not the affair. Despite the hypocritical attacks on Clinton for his infidelity, it is widely accepted that Ensign is only human and no one is perfect.
    The problems are: (1) the hypocrisy, (2) the fraud in claiming to be something (holier than thou) that you are NOT, (3) Paying off your mistress with $ from questionable sources, (4) the boss engaging in sexual harrassment of his employee, (5) Using taxpayer and campaign funds to support your mistress, (6) while claiming to be a Christian, belonging to a secret anti-Christian cult (C-Street) which protects and enables the philandering on the public dime.
    Need I say more?

    July 20, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  18. Frank, Las Vegas

    Ensign is a hypocrite and should resign, plain and simple!

    July 20, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  19. Jeff Brown

    To "Doug, New Jersey"
    You are a closed minded imbecile!

    July 20, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. Steve, New York City

    Well . . . .he has nice hair! (ha ha ha).

    July 20, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  21. Blue Dog

    The 30% of Nevada voters who support Senator Ensign all work in the adult entertainment industry which the Senator has supported so well in recent years.

    July 20, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  22. GI Joe

    @Doug in New Jersey

    Innocent until proven guilty – have you heard that one before?

    Democrats caught in illicit affairs step aside. Republicans caught in illicit affairs are nothing unusual – if they all stepped aside, we'd have a government that is 100% better than the slime you repubs. all continue to uphold.

    July 20, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  23. Proud Member..Party of No

    The difference is that, as a republican, Ensign will not be re-elected. If he were a democrat he would be idolized and nominated for a high-level position in the party.

    July 20, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  24. Randolph Carter

    Doug, New Jersey wrote:
    The average liberal Democrat believes that there is nothing more wrong and evil than a republican who has had an affair. It is ok for a lib to have one, in fact as their continuing support and re-election has shown, child molestation (studds) and murder (kennedy), are just fine and not at all wrong, but a republican affair is unacceptable. Remember, you support this if you vote Democrat, sorry you can't defend yourself on this one.

    Using your logic, then, If you vote republican, you support the murder of 4000+ US troops so that Halliburton can rake in the bucks on their no-bid contract. Have a nice day!

    July 20, 2009 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
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