November 30, 2011

Extramarital Affairs, Political Candidates and Public Opinion

57%

When asked last May, nearly six-in-ten (57%) Republicans said they would be less likely to support a candidate who had an extramarital affair. Americans overall have a more unforgiving view of a candidate’s past infidelity than they did in 2007.

The public now has a more negative view of a candidate’s past infidelity than was the case in 2007. Just under half (46%) of people now say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who had an extramarital affair in the past; a relatively similar percentage ( 49%) say this would not matter to them. In 2007, 39% of people said they would be less likely to support a candidate who had an affair — the majority (56%) said it would not matter to them.

More Republicans (57%) than Democrats (42%) say they would be less likely to support a candidate who has had an extramarital affair. The gap was much wider in 2007, when 62% of Republicans and only 25% of Democrats expressed this view.

The public continues to be far more forgiving of a past divorce; only 11% say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who has been divorced. Most people (85%) say this would nor matter to them. Republicans are somewhat more likely than Democrats to view a candidate’s divorce negatively.

These results come from a survey conducted May 25-30 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Read More