An Economist/YouGov poll asks respondents if they’d back “a presidential candidate who has done immoral acts in private life.”
Surprisingly, Democrats seemed less forgiving and flexible than Republicans: A full 48% of Republicans found it acceptable to back a candidate with moral failings, but only 19% of Democrats agreed. After three decades of Democratic infatuation with the profoundly imperfect Bill and Hillary, this counts as a shock.
Yes, these attitudes reflect the polarized response to the current incumbent, but other factors make the GOP less judgmental and moralistic than the stereotype. More common identification with religion helps Republicans see “immoral acts in private” as nearly universal, so they pick the most capable sinner.
It’s liberals who view politics as life’s highest calling, while conservatives look askance at politicians in general, and feel ready to trade a bit of private imperfection for a lot of public competence.
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