April 8, 2014 - U.S. Voters Dislike Politicians Who Cheat Less Than Those Who Abuse Power, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds
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American voters dislike a politician who abuses official power more than an elected official caught in an extra-marital affair, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today.

The independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University presented voters with a theoretical congressman - James Miller - whose "main concern in office is developing policies to help middle-class, working families." Miller was described as 53, married, with two children.

While he is not identified as Republican or Democrat, 83 percent of voters have a "very favorable" or "somewhat favorable" opinion of him, and 65 percent say they "definitely" or "probably" would vote for his reelection.

Some voters were told that Miller was "unfaithful to his wife with another woman." Among those voters, only 36 percent have a "very favorable" or "somewhat favorable" opinion, with 58 percent "somewhat unfavorable" or "very unfavorable." A total of 39 percent say they definitely or probably would vote for him, while 49 percent say they definitely or probably would not vote for him.

Another group of voters were told "Miller created a new, well-paid position on his staff in order to hire an unqualified family member as a favor." In that group, 22 percent have a very or somewhat favorable view, with 75 percent somewhat or very unfavorable. Only 24 percent definitely or probably would vote for him, with 67 percent who definitely or probably would not.

"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.

Voters have less tolerance for Miller when hypocrisy is added as a factor in the sex scandal. In a scenario where a Miller priority is "promoting moral values," and then the extramarital affair is mentioned, overall favorability drops to 25 percent, with 68 percent unfavorable. Only 28 percent say they are likely to vote for him, down from 39 percent in the neutral or non-hypocritical scenario.

In a scenario where a Miller priority is "cleaning up government," followed by the fact that he hired a family member, favorability is at 24 percent, compared to 22 percent in the neutral scenario. Only 21 percent say they definitely or probably would vote for him, compared to 24 percent in the neutral scenario.

An official scandal also affects voter judgment of the politician's ability to do the job: 43 percent of voters describe the Miller who hired a family member as unlikely to do a good job in office, but only 31 percent describe the adulterer version that way.

When it comes to personal integrity, however, the script flips: 57 percent say the unfaithful Miller lacks personal integrity, compared to 49 percent who say so about the power- abusing version.

From March 26 - 31, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,578 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and the nation as a public service and for research.

For more information, visit http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter

37. (INTRO Q37-42) I'd like to read you the description of a hypothetical candidate for political office, and get your opinion on him.

Split sample scenarios presented:

CONTROL: James Miller is 53 years old and is a member of Congress running for re-election this year. He is married and has two children. His main concern in office is developing policies to help middle class, working families.

PERSONAL/HYPOCRITICAL: James Miller is 53 years old and is a member of Congress running for re-election this year. He is married and has two children. His main concerns in office are promoting moral values, and developing policies to help middle class, working families. Recently it was discovered that Mr. Miller has been unfaithful to his wife with another woman.

PERSONAL/NEUTRAL: James Miller is 53 years old and is a member of Congress running for re-election this year. He is married and has two children. His main concern in office is developing policies to help middle class, working families. Recently it was discovered that Mr. Miller has been unfaithful to his wife with another woman.

OFFICIAL/HYPOCRITICAL: James Miller is 53 years old and is a member of Congress running for re-election this year. He is married and has two children. His main concerns in office are cleaning up government, and developing policies to help middle class, working families. Recently it was discovered that Mr. Miller created a new, well-paid position on his staff in order to hire an unqualified family member as a favor.

OFFICIAL/NEUTRAL: James Miller is 53 years old and is a member of Congress running for re-election this year. He is married and has two children. His main concern in office is developing policies to help middle class, working families. Recently it was discovered that Mr. Miller created a new, well-paid position on his staff in order to hire an unqualified family member as a favor.


From what you have heard, would you say your opinion of James Miller is very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable?
                            PERSONAL...   OFFICIAL...
                     Contrl Hypcrt Ntrl   Hypcrt Ntrl
 
Very favorable       22%     2%     6%     3%     4%
Somewhat favorable   61     23     30     21     18
Somewhat unfavorable  5     47     40     40     49
Very unfavorable      1     21     18     32     26
DK/NA                11      7      5      4      4
 
 
38. How likely would you be to vote for James Miller if he were running in your district; do you think you would definitely vote for him, probably vote for him, probably not vote for him, or definitely not vote for him?
                            PERSONAL...   OFFICIAL...
                     Contrl Hypcrt Ntrl   Hypcrt Ntrl
 
Definitely            6%     2%     3%     1%     2%
Probably             59     26     36     20     22
Probably not         15     47     36     44     52
Definitely not        2     12     13     24     15
DK/NA                18     12     11     10      9
 
 
39. How much would you say "cares about the needs and problems of working families" describes James Miller; does it describe him a great deal, a good amount, somewhat, not so much or not at all?
                            PERSONAL...   OFFICIAL...
                     Contrl Hypcrt Ntrl   Hypcrt Ntrl
 
A great deal         18%     4%    10%     7%    12%
A good amount        23     19     23     19     15
Somewhat             32     42     31     31     32
Not so much          11     14     15     21     15
Not at all            5      9     10     11     15
DK/NA                10     12     12     12     11
 
 
40. How much would you say "would do a good job in office if re-elected" describes James Miller; does it describe him a great deal, a good amount, somewhat, not so much or not at all?
                            PERSONAL...   OFFICIAL...
                     Contrl Hypcrt Ntrl   Hypcrt Ntrl
 
A great deal          5%     2%     4%     1%     3%
A good amount        19      7     12      9     17
Somewhat             33     36     39     37     27
Not so much          12     23     20     22     26
Not at all           14     16     11     20     17
DK/NA                17     16     14     10     11
 
 
41. How much would you say "has personal integrity" describes James Miller; does it describe him a great deal, a good amount, somewhat, not so much or not at all?
                            PERSONAL...   OFFICIAL...
                     Contrl Hypcrt Ntrl   Hypcrt Ntrl
 
A great deal          9%     7%     6%     7%     7%
A good amount        12      6      6      5     10
Somewhat             33     24     24     26     26
Not so much          16     32     37     31     28
Not at all           12     24     20     25     21
DK/NA                17      7      7      7      7
 
 
42. How much would you say "has strong leadership qualities" describes James Miller; does it describe him a great deal, a good amount, somewhat, not so much or not at all?
                            PERSONAL...   OFFICIAL...
                     Contrl Hypcrt Ntrl   Hypcrt Ntrl
 
A great deal          4%     4%     4%     3%     2%
A good amount        15      5     12      7      8
Somewhat             34     35     33     32     33
Not so much          15     28     23     26     26
Not at all           15     14     14     19     18
DK/NA                17     14     14     12     12
 
 

Demographic Summary