Marla Maples. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Marla Maples. She and Donald Trump had an affair before he dumped his first wife to marry Maples. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Evangelical Protestants are no longer so outraged over presidential candidates having extramarital affairs, and a new survey finds that President Donald Trump’s sex history outside marriage may have something to do with that change in attitude.

As part of a nationwide poll by the Utah-based Deseret News focusing on American attitudes towards sex and cheating, officials found that Evangelical Protestants were no longer quite so ready to oppose candidates who had strayed from their marriage vows.

“One of the most dramatic shifts of opinion on this question (of extramarital cheating) has been among white Evangelical Protestants,” according to poll officials. “In January 2016, 56 percent said they would be less likely to support a candidate who had an extramarital affair. Today that number is 45 percent.”

In fact, “over the past year, Republicans have become much more accepting of affairs among presidential candidates, and Democrats much less so,” poll officials concluded.

“This is likely due to partisan associations with Republican President Donald Trump.”

Trump had a widely known affair with Marla Maples while married to his first wife. He separated from the first wife once the Maples affair became known. Trump and Maples married in December, 1993, two months after she gave birth to a daughter.

That marriage ended and he is now married to his third wife.

Trump was well known for boasting about his sex affairs, and he was criticized during last fall’s campaign when recordings were made public of him speaking about “grabbing” a woman’s genitals, but using vulgar references to women’s body parts.

About 20 years ago, however, members of the GOP weren’t quite so accepting when they were incensed when Democratic President Bill Clinton was found to have had sexual relations with a White House intern, even though Clinton was married to Hillary Clinton. President Clinton was impeached in 1998 by the House of Representatives, but he was acquitted by the Senate and served out his full term.

“The poll, which surveyed a representative sample of Americans, is part of the Deseret News’ fourth annual Ten Today project, which looks at the relevance of the Ten Commandments in modern life,” according to officials. “Some of the findings of the poll, which includes 1,000 responses from Americans across religious, gender and age groups plus an oversample of 250 Mormons, include:

  • About three-quarters of Americans believe that having a one-night stand or a consistent sexual affair would count as cheating on a spouse or partner, while roughly 25 percent think it is “sometimes” or “never” cheating. Views are more varied for different acts involving the internet, such as sending sexually explicit text messages (51 percent say this is always cheating), maintaining an online dating profile while in a relationship (63 percent) or following an ex on social media (16 percent).
    • Millennials have stricter views than their elders when it comes to some forms of online cheating. For example, 94 percent of Millennials think having a one night stand is cheating on your partner, while 78 percent of the Silent Generation thinks so.
    • Across the board, women are more likely than men to classify each of the eleven survey items as cheating. For instance, 70 percent of females think actively maintaining an online dating profile while in a relationship is cheating vs. 55 percent of males.
  • Religious Americans are more likely to consider actions such as going to a strip club or viewing pornography without your partner to be cheating.
    • Evangelical Christians and especially Mormons consistently take a stricter view than any other religious group as to what constitutes cheating, especially when it comes to watching pornography or going to a strip club without a partner.

“More than three-quarters of Americans believe that having sexual relations with someone other than their partner is ‘always’ cheating, but they are less clear on issues such as sending sexually explicit text messages or maintaining an online dating profile while in a relationship, according to a new survey released today examining American attitudes about adultery.

“The study, commissioned by the Deseret News, designed by Y2 Analytics and conducted by YouGov, polled Americans about a range of scenarios they consider to be cheating on a partner – from having a one-night stand to viewing online pornography to friending an ex on Facebook. The survey also examined attitudes about public figures – specifically, whether a presidential candidate’s extramarital affair would influence the respondent’s decision to vote for that candidate – and how couples behave toward each other.

“The poll, which surveyed a representative sample of Americans, is part of the Deseret News’ fourth annual Ten Today project, which looks at the relevance of the Ten Commandments in modern life. Some of the findings of the poll, which includes 1,000 responses from Americans across religious, gender and age groups plus an oversample of 250 Mormons, include:

  • About three-quarters of Americans believe that having a one-night stand or a consistent sexual affair would count as cheating on a spouse or partner, while roughly 25 percent think it is “sometimes” or “never” cheating. Views are more varied for different acts involving the internet, such as sending sexually explicit text messages (51 percent say this is always cheating), maintaining an online dating profile while in a relationship (63 percent) or following an ex on social media (16 percent).
    • Millennials have stricter views than their elders when it comes to some forms of online cheating. For example, 94 percent of Millennials think having a one night stand is cheating on your partner, while 78 percent of the Silent Generation thinks so.
    • Across the board, women are more likely than men to classify each of the eleven survey items as cheating. For instance, 70 percent of females think actively maintaining an online dating profile while in a relationship is cheating vs. 55 percent of males.
  • Religious Americans are more likely to consider actions such as going to a strip club or viewing pornography without your partner to be cheating.
    • Evangelical Christians and especially Mormons consistently take a stricter view than any other religious group as to what constitutes cheating, especially when it comes to watching pornography or going to a strip club without a partner.
  • Over the past year, Republicans have become much more accepting of affairs among presidential candidates, and Democrats much less so. This is likely due to partisan associations with Republican President Donald Trump.
    • One of the most dramatic shifts of opinion on this question has been among white Evangelical Protestants. In January 2016, 56 percent said they would be less likely to support a candidate who had an extramarital affair. Today that number is 45 percent.
  • Younger couples are the most likely to have sex on a regular basis, but a majority of couples of all ages consistently go out of their way to do small acts of kindness for one another, such as making coffee or putting gas in the car.

“YouGov interviewed 1,832 respondents who were then matched down to a sample of 1,000 nationally representative interviews plus an additional 250 self-identified Mormons to produce the final dataset. The respondents were matched to a sampling frame on gender, age, race, education, party identification, ideology, and political interest. The frame was constructed by stratified sampling from the full 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) sample with selection within strata by weighted sampling with replacements (using the person weights on the public use file). Data on voter registration status and turnout were matched to this frame using the November 2010 Current Population Survey.

“Data on party identification were then matched to this frame from the 2007 Pew Religious Landscape Survey. The matched cases were weighted to the sampling frame using propensity scores. The matched cases and the frame were combined and a logistic regression was estimated for inclusion in the frame. The propensity score function included age, gender, race/ethnicity, years of education, and ideology. The propensity scores were grouped into deciles of the estimated propensity score in the frame and post-stratified according to these deciles. The margin of error is +-3.1.

“To see more results from the poll or download a PDF of the report, visit http://www.deseretnews.com/tentoday.

“Founded in 1850, the Deseret News (www.deseretnews.com) offers news, analysis and commentary for family-oriented audiences across the country. The award-winning writers at the Deseret News keep their growing readership informed with real-world solutions that can make a positive difference in families and communities. The Deseret News is the first news organization and longest continuously-operating business in the state of Utah.”

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