Porn star Stormy Daniels on Sunday detailed her alleged affair with Donald Trump for the first time on camera in an interview with 60 Minutes.
The interview has generated headlines and renewed interest in a story that has been brewing since January, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in the final days of the 2016 campaign to keep quiet about the alleged affair, which the White House has denied happened.
But despite the media coverage, there has been a lack of collective moral outrage over the revelations Trump may have had an extramarital affair – the kind of outrage you could imagine existing if this were any other administration.
In fact, Trump’s approval rating has remained steady in recent months around 40% in an average of polls. In the latest CNN survey, he reached 42% – higher than at any point since the 100 day mark of his presidency.
Part of the reason for this might be that the feelings Americans have towards Trump on issues of morality are already baked into the electoral cake.
Last month, before the interview aired but after the allegations were made public, Quinnipiac University asked voters whether they thought Trump had been “loyal to his wife” during their marriage. Just 18% said yes compared to 56% who said no. Trump couldn’t even manage to get a majority of Republicans (only 42%) to say that they thought he had been loyal. More of them (44%) said they weren’t sure. In CNN’s latest poll, 63% of Americans (including 45% of women who are or lean Republican) said they believe women accusing Trump of affairs rather than Trump.
And yet voters claim that a generic president being loyal to a spouse is important. The same February Quinnipiac poll found that 83% of all voters and 86% of Republicans said it was important. And yet, despite Republicans saying a president being loyal was important and many being unsure that he was, Trump still maintains the support of the vast majority of his base.
Republicans, in other words, are giving Trump a pass on this issue.
And on several other character issues, Trump is underwater.
In a March Quinnipiac poll, 55% said Trump lacked a sense of decency. A minority (42%) said that he had one.
That same poll found that 67% of Americans think Trump is a bad role role model for children and 60% believe Trump doesn’t respect women as much as he does men.
Indeed, Trump has been accused of far worse than having a consensual affair in the past. He’s been accused of sexual assault, allegations which Trump denies.
Most Americans, however, have said they believe those allegations. Back in December, 61% of Americans told CNN that they thought those accusations were mostly true. Among those who approved of the President, 15% still thought it was true.
When Trump’s approval rating has dropped in the past, it’s occurred when some new element has been introduced into the news cycle, such as pushing a healthcare bill many thought benefited the rich more than the middle class or the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
But the alleged affair with Daniels fits into what Americans already believe about Trump.