Fewer in GOP think moral leadership is important from president

Twenty-two percent of Republicans think Donald Trump provides somewhat or very weak moral leadership as President, according to a Gallup poll released Tuesday. Fifty-nine percent of Americans say the same, with 60% of independents and 91% of Democrats agreeing.

When asked if they think it is important for the President to provide moral leadership for the country, Democrats were the most likely to say it was important (77%). Only 63% of Republicans and 62% of independents agreed.

Those numbers have changed substantially since the Clinton administration.

Between 1994-1999, 86% of Republicans thought it was important for the President to provide moral leadership, with a 23-point decrease to 63% in 2018. Democrats have increased by 13 points, with only 64% agreeing with the significance of moral leadership during the Clinton era versus 77% during Trump’s presidency.

Both President Clinton and President Trump have faced scandals during their tenure, in office and during campaigns, with the partisan switch reflecting that Republicans now view morality as a less important issue. It was Democrats who were more ambivalent during Clinton’s administration.

During the 2000 Republican National Convention, George W. Bush cited the Monica Lewinsky scandal and promised the restoration of honor and dignity to the White House, a rallying message for conservative voters. Now, 77% of Republicans consider the President to be “morally strong.” That is comparable to when Clinton was elected in 1996, with 78% of Democrats saying the same. However, when he was impeached in 1998, the number of Democrats who said Clinton was morally strong dropped 32-points. Despite this drop for Clinton on morality, his overall approval rating held strong among Democrats.

Independents are less likely to consider the President Trump morally strong than they were for Bill Clinton pre-impeachment — 38% strong for Trump and 46% strong for Clinton early in his presidency, respectively. During the Clinton administration, 69% of independents believed providing moral leadership was important and 62% of independents said the same during the Trump administration — about on par with the answer from Republicans.