Americans would more likely support a philandering presidential candidate than an atheist one -- by an 18 percent margin -- according to a Pew Research Center poll published Monday.
While 35 percent of respondents said they would be less likely to support a presidential candidate who had an extramarital affair, 53 percent of Americans indicated that not believing in God -- the trait viewed most negatively of the 16 tested -- would make them unsupportive of a candidate.
In accordance with a widely cited study by the University of Minnesota, which found atheists to be the most disliked and distrusted minority group in the nation, only 5 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a secular candidate.
The Pew survey, which questioned 1,501 adults nationwide from April 23 to 27, also found a significant partisan divide on the issue.
While 70 percent of Republicans and 42 percent of Democrats expressed opposition to an atheist candidate, 49 percent of Democrats viewed a potential candidate’s atheism as irrelevant.
Overall, even fewer Americans, 22 percent, would oppose a presidential candidate who has admitted to marijuana use.
In addition to the 71 percent of Protestants and the 48 percent of Catholics who would be less likely to favor an atheist candidate, almost a quarter of the religiously unaffiliated, 24 percent, indicated they would be more likely to reject an atheist contender.
In line with the survey’s 2008 and 2012 findings, candidates with military service once again ranked as the most desirable, with 43 percent of voters indicating they would be more likely support a presidential candidate with military experience.
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