Extramarital Affairs? OK, Mr. Gallup, Glad You Asked …

Posted March 25, 2008 at 3:33pm

You can count on Gallup to have a poll for all seasons and all reasons, and here’s one for those of you glued to the stories of sexual strayings by elected officials like former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, not to mention *current* New York Gov. David Paterson.

Noting the recent revelations about Spitzer, Paterson and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (proving that this is not just a New York thing), Gallup asked in a March 14-16 survey whether a respondent would forgive his or her spouse for marital infidelity and 54 percent said they would not. Of those, 26 percent said probably not, and 38 percent said not on your life. Ten percent would *definitely* forgive a wayward spouse, and 23 percent said they probably would. In poll-speak, most spouses don’t allow much for a margin of error.

Now, if you want to know what that all means, Gallup says that “hypothetically, only 36% say they would publicly stand by their spouse at the podium if that spouse were an elected official who had to face the media to answer questions about an affair.” Sixty-one percent would effectively say, “Forget that ‘for better or worse’ stuff.”

As on many issues surveyed by Gallup, Americans are pretty divided on which kind of cheating is worse. Thirty-five percent of all Americans said that paying for a prostitute is worst, thirty-four percent frowned more on a romantic affair and 27 percent “volunteered” that both were equally bad. There *is* a gender gap on this question. Forty percent of men disapproved most of a romantic affair versus 32 percent who disliked the prostitute scenario the most, while 38 percent of women condemned the prostitute option compared to 32 percent who were most bothered by a romantic affair.