Personal Attacks on Politicians play better with men

April 15, 2013, 9:35 PM GMT+0

Men are much more likely than women to consider personal matters “fair game” during a political race. But most agree some topics should stay off limits.

Senator Mitch McConnell recently entered the headlines after a tape surfaced of him discussing his opponent's history of depression as potential attack material for a putative election campaign.

New polling from YouGov shows that when it comes to attacks like these, there are big differences between what men and women think is acceptable for politicians to bring up about their opponents during a campaign.

When given a list of personal matters about a candidate, men were routinely more likely than women to select an item as fair game.

Even so, no personal matter was considered 'fair game' by a majority of panelists and only one was selected by a majority of men--history of mental illness--which was also the item selected by the most women.

Some of the starkest differences between men and women concerned ethnic background and sexual orientation.

21% of men considered ethnic background fair game, while only 10% of women did so. Bringing up sexual orientation, on the other hand, was as seen acceptable by 28% of men, but only 14% of women.

By and large the vast majority of both men and women do not regard attacks based on the actions or views of family to be acceptable.

That said, 28% of men and 18% of women do consider the views or actions of spouses to be “fair game”.

A significant number of both men and women did not consider bringing up any of these personal matters to be fair game, with 21% of men and 32% of women answering ‘none of the above’.

Complete results are available here

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