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Poll: GOP suddenly less worried about the importance of the president's moral leadership

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President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton leave Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol after the Inaugural Luncheon on Jan. 20, 2017. Twenty years ago, during the Clinton administration, Republicans were far more concerned about the president's moral leadership than they are today. (Molly Riley/AFP/Getty Images)

Presidential moral leadership was once a major rallying point for the Republican Party, but a new poll reveals that things in the GOP — and the Democratic Party — have changed significantly over the last two decades.

During the administration of former President Bill Clinton, Republican leaders and voters acted as tireless defenders of morality, family, and the dignity of the office of president of the United States.

When stories of Clinton's affairs (aka the "bimbo eruptions," a term coined by Clinton ally Betsey Wright) were making headlines during the 1992 presidential election, the GOP and its supporters campaigned vociferously that the president should provide moral leadership and be held to a higher standard.

When Clinton's dalliance with White House intern Monica Lewinsky was exposed, again Republicans demanded that the occupant of the Oval Office conduct himself as a moral leader — especially for America's children and families who found themselves suddenly discussing oral sex in their everyday home lives.

Now, in the era of President Donald Trump, the GOP's clarion call for moral leadership from the nation's highest office highest has been significantly subdued. According to a new Gallup poll, the share of GOPers saying moral leadership from the president is important has dropped by more than a quarter.

Notably, the poll showed that more Democrats, who throughout the '90s said that the president's personal sexual peccadilloes didn't matter, are now saying the president's moral leadership is important.

In fact, Democrats today are now significantly more likely than Republicans to say it's "very important" that the president provide moral leadership.

What did the poll reveal?

From 1994 to 1999, Gallup conducted multiple polls asking the following: "How important do you think it is for the president to provide moral leadership for the country — very important, somewhat important, only slightly important or not at all important?" The company asked the same question this month.

In the 1990s, 72 percent of all adults said presidential moral leadership was "very important." Sixty-six percent of adults say the same today.

What's more significant than the 6-point overall drop is the partisan change: Republicans dropped 23 points, while Democrats increased 13 points.

During the Clinton administration, 86 percent of Republicans deemed presidential moral leadership "very important."

Today, just 63 percent of Republicans say so — which happens to be nearly identical to the share of Democrats (64 percent) who said the same during the Clinton years.

Having apparently found their moral footing, now some 77 percent of Democrats want the president to provide the same moral leadership Republicans called for 20 years ago.

What do the parties think of Trump's moral leadership?

Americans, generally, do not have a positive view of President Trump's moral leadership: 40 percent say he provides strong moral leadership, while 59 percent say his moral leadership is weak.

Despite the fact that a significantly smaller share of Republicans are likely to say that presidential moral leadership is important, still 77 percent of GOP voters believe Trump provides strong moral leadership. Only 8 percent of Democrats share that view.

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