POLITICS
11/14/2012 03:44 pm ET | Updated Aug 15, 2014

David Petraeus Resignation Finds Approval In Both Parties: Poll

Americans across the political spectrum are more likely than not to agree with Gen. David Petraeus' resignation, a HuffPost/YouGov poll released Wednesday found.

Nearly half of Americans believe Petraeus was right to resign, according to the poll, while 20 percent said he should not have resigned, and 31 percent weren't sure.

Petraeus announced his resignation on Friday, admitting to an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. "Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours," he said in a statement.

The resignation of Petraeus -- a widely respected registered Republican serving under a Democratic president -- doesn't lend itself to easy partisan spin (unusual for a Washington scandal), and lawmakers from both parties have raised questions about the FBI investigation leading to his downfall. Public reaction also seems to have largely bypassed party lines. Republicans, who are broadly more likely to agree that public officials' private lives are relevant to their work, were somewhat tougher on the general. Six in 10 said he was right to resign, compared to 51 percent of Democrats who agreed. Two-thirds of Republicans, and 48 percent of Democrats, said Petraeus' private conduct was relevant to his ability to do his job.

But similar numbers in both parties -- 21 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of Democrats -- said Petraeus should have retained his position.

In contrast, Republicans were far more likely to call for the resignation of then-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) in 2011, after he admitted to posting sexually explicit photographs online. Eighty-four percent of Republicans thought Weiner should resign, while only 42 percent of Democrats agreed, YouGov found. At the time, Republicans were also 26 points more likely than Democrats to say having an affair should merit resignation, and 24 points more likely to say that politicians' private conduct was somewhat or quite relevant to their role as a public official.

Awareness of Petraeus' resignation and the surrounding scandal was fairly widespread, with 78 percent of adults saying they'd heard about it, and 35 percent of adults saying they'd heard a lot. Young people paid less attention, with only 59 percent between ages 18 and 30 saying they'd heard anything about the issue.

More than 6 in 10 of those who'd heard a lot about the story said that Petraeus was right to resign, compared to 53 percent among those who'd only heard a little. Forty percent of those hearing about the affair for the first time said they weren't sure what the general should have done, with the rest about equally likely to say that he should have or should not have resigned.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll interviewed 1,000 adults online between Nov. 12 and Nov. 13, with a 4.5 percent margin of error. It used a sample that was selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

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