Voters dislike officials who abuse power more than those in affairs

Voters in the United States dislike an elected official who abuses power more than one who is caught in an extramarital affair, a new poll suggests.

A Quinnipiac University survey released Tuesday said nearly half of voters presented with a politician caught in an affair said they wouldn’t vote for him. More than 60 percent of voters said the same when presented with one who abuses power. 

The polling institute presented voters with a theoretical congressman, James Miller, who was identified as 53, married and has two children.

Miller’s “main concern in office is developing policies to help middle-class, working families,” voters were told.

He was not identified as a Republican or Democrat and 83 percent said they had a very or somewhat favorable view of him. Nearly two-thirds said they’d vote for him for reelection. 

Some voters were then told Miller was “unfaithful to his wife with another woman.” Among those voters, 58 percent said they had a somewhat or very unfavorable view of him and 49 percent said they definitely or probably would not vote for him. 

Another group was told Miller “created a new, well-paid position on his staff in order to hire an unqualified family member as a favor." The poll found 75 percent then had a somewhat or very unfavorable view of him and 67 percent said they definitely or probably would not vote for him.

“Voters clearly see a difference between personal and official scandals. Committing adultery is far less damaging to a politician than abusing their office," Assistant Director of the Quinnipiac University Poll Tim Malloy said. 

The poll comes just a day after a video went viral showing freshman Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La.) kissing a female staffer who isn’t his wife. The footage was recorded on a security camera, and was provided to a local newspaper by an anonymous source. 

McAllister said late Monday he wouldn’t resign over the extramarital affair.

The Quinnipiac poll was conducted more than a week before the McAllister scandal, from March 26 to 31. The poll covered 1,578 voters and has a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points. 

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