Poll: High number of political sex scandals has more to do with increased scrutiny, not lack of moral compass

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Anthony Weiner’s sex scandal hasn’t disillusioned the public that politicians have lost their moral compass. According to a new Pew Research Center/Washington Post poll, a majority of Americans think that the number of scandals coming to light has more to do with the increased scrutiny of politicians.

Just 19 percent of Americans believe that politicians get caught misbehaving so often because they have lower moral standards than ordinary Americans. Fifty-seven percent said that the high number of political sex scandals is because politicians face more scrutiny than the average American.

Indeed, recent sex scandals involving politicians have turned into media feeding frenzies, with stories of Anthony Weiner’s wiener and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s illegitimate child dominating the news in recent months.

Democrats are somewhat more likely to think that the number of sex scandals has more to do with increased scrutiny than lack of a moral compass. Sixty-five percent of Democrats said greater scrutiny was to blame, compared to 54 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of Independents.

Younger people are also more likely to cite scrutiny, with 66 percent of 18-to-29 year olds citing that reason, compared to 50 percent of those 65 and over.

Among those who say that politicians have lower moral standards than regular Americans, 13 percent of the public said that power corrupts moral standards. Four percent say politics is a business that just attracts people who lack a moral compass.