Poll Shows Voters Forgive Adultery But Not Prostitution — Which Is Awful News For Eliot Spitzer

Jul 8, 2013
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Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announced his candidacy for the New York City Comptroller position, and there’s already evidence showing that Spitzer’s use of high-priced prostitutes could severely harm his candidacy.

In May, disgraced former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford won his old congressional seat back in an election, several years after it was discovered the Governor was cheating on his wife with an Argentinian mistress.

In advance of that election, Business Insider and SurveyMonkey — an online polling firm that has enjoyed considerable success in out-polling telephone firms  — teamed up to find out what voters considered unforgivable. 

We asked respondents about a hypothetical congressional race in which the candidate they supported — and who was effectively carrying out the duties of their office — was revealed to have committed various crimes and moral lapses. We then asked if that would lead respondents to continue their support for that candidate or drop it.

While this poll was designed to ask about congressional representatives, there’s no reason to believe that there aren’t similar effects for other local elected office.

For mere adulterers, the drop in support wasn’t that significant:

screen shot 2013-05-07 at 8.55.32 pm

However, when asked if they would support a candidate who utilized the services of prostitutes, that was a breaking point for many.

More than half of respondents said they would discontinue support for a candidate if they learned that the candidate was a john.

screen shot 2013-05-07 at 8.55.54 pm

This was a really significant dip. Elected representatives who paid for sex saw a more significant drop in support than candidates caught driving drunk.

And you’ll recall that Eliot Spitzer wasn’t just any john. “Client Number 9” spent more than $15,000 over six months on seven to eight liaisons with high-priced call girls.

What’s more, investigators believe Spitzer spent over $80,000 over the course of his career as Attorney General and Governor on prostitutes.

Needless to say, Spitzer may have an uphill battle in his race for the New York City Comptroller position even if people think he’s otherwise qualified. 

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