All considered –after resignation, retirement, primary losses and general election losses – Basinger’s data show that 60 percent of scandal-tainted incumbents ultimately find themselves back in Congress.
Not all scandals are created equal, of course. They vary in scope and importance, as well as the amount of attention they receive. A widely publicized scandal about clear financial or criminal wrongdoing likely will be more difficult for an incumbent to overcome than an obscure technical violation involving Federal Election Commission paperwork.
But the overall patterns suggest that American voters are a fairly forgiving, or at least forgetful, people.