A new study has shown that the majority of white evangelicals believe that a politician who acts immorally in his/her private life is still able to conduct him/herself ethically in his/her public life.
The results of this survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) are especially interesting considering the same survey was conducted six years ago–with very different results.
RelevantMagazine.com reports that the survey asked respondents if “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.”
When the survey was conducted in 2011, only 30 percent of white evangelicals said that a politician who acted immorally could still be a good public leader. Last year, however, in 2016, the same survey found that that percentage of white evangelicals jumped all the way to 72 percent.
Also, in 2011, white evangelicals were the most likely group to say that a politician’s immoral behavior disqualified him/her from public service, while in 2016, white evangelicals were the least likely to say the same thing.
Experts have speculated that this drastic shift is in large part due to the fact that voters are beginning to align more with specific individuals rather than political parties.
Also, although this survey was specific to conservative voters, BYU researchers said that Democrats may “react in similar ways given the right set of circumstances.”