Although buffeted by news of yet another misbehaving congressman, few Americans see the country’s elected officials as particularly unchaste – at least not more so than other people.
In a new poll by the Washington Post and the Pew Research Center, fully 57 percent of all Americans say politicians get snared in sex scandals because they are under great scrutiny. Far fewer, 19 percent, say it’s because elected officials “have lower moral standards than ordinary Americans.”
Nearly two-thirds of Democrats polled take the charitable view of elected officials, a finding that may prove beneficial to Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), the latest politician involved in scandal, should he withstand a growing chorus for his resignation.
Slimmer majorities, but majorities nonetheless, of Republicans and independents say politicians aren’t more culpable than others in this arena, just under closer scrutiny.
Young adults are more apt than seniors to say it’s the attention politicians get, not their morals, that’s at issue. There’s little difference between men and women on this score.
Among the 19 percent of all Americans who say elected officials simply have lower moral standards, most say it’s their rise to powerful positions that cause them to come unmoored.