But these numbers do suggest that the penalty for extramarital relationships between consenting adults has decreased significantly.
Over the past few decades, a bipartisan parade of unfaithful men — led by Presidents Trump and Bill Clinton — has depoliticized marital infidelity. Yes, most Americans think extramarital affairs are wrong, and they don’t like it when politicians cheat. But politicians have also lost moral credibility on marriage and relationships, so much so that many voters no longer take their moralizing seriously. Democrats defend Clinton; Republicans defend Trump; and any politician who tries to stone an adulterer is immediately (and rightly) exposed as a partisan hack.
It’s not clear whether this new state of affairs is good for America. It’s easy to envision a downward spiral in which partisanship sands off the penalties for more behaviors, such as corruption and self-dealing. It’s also possible to imagine a future in which voters care less about the personal lives of their leaders, find new role models for their kids, and focus solely on the qualities, policy positions and competencies that are most relevant for the job.