LAS VEGAS (AP) – U.S. Sen. John Ensign’s popularity has taken a hit since his extramarital affair became known, but most Nevada voters don’t think he should resign, a poll said Sunday.

In a poll published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, 62 percent of Nevada voters who vote regularly said they thought Ensign should not abandon his seat because of his admitted affair with a former campaign aide.

The poll said 29 percent of people believe Ensign should resign, while 9 percent said they don’t know or believe it depends on certain factors.

The poll conducted Thursday and Friday by Washington, D.C.-based firm Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. showed a sharp contrast with a similar poll conducted in mid-May.

The latest numbers show voters view Ensign more unfavorably and fewer say they liked him.

The poll said 39 percent of voters view Ensign as favorable, a drop of 14 percentage points from the May survey. The poll said 37 percent of voters say they view Ensign unfavorably, up 19 percentage points from May.

The 51-year-old Republican senator confessed on Tuesday to the nine-month affair with 46-year-old Cindy Hampton, a campaign aide.

The staunch Christian conservative in his second term said the affair began during a rocky time in his marriage in December 2007, continuing until August 2008.

“His numbers have obviously dropped. He’s obviously suffered damage because of this,” said Brad Coker, a managing partner at Mason-Dixon. “But it could be a lot worse for Ensign. The really significant question is that only 29 percent think that he should resign right away. He does have the ability to stay on and turn this around.”

The margin of error for the survey was 4 percentage points. Pollsters interviewed 625 voters by telephone, including 308 men and 317 women.


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