Both the Republican and Democratic parties, as the past few weeks have made clear, have issues with sexual harassment.
In Congress, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) apologized after a series of groping allegations; Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) denied multiple allegations of sexual harassment but announced he was stepping down as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. On the campaign trail in Alabama, Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore continues to deny a swath of allegations that he preyed on teen girls while he was in his 30s. And in the White House, President Donald Trump is still facing accusations of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women.
But there are significant differences in how Americans in each party are reacting to the controversies embroiling their own lawmakers, as a newly released HuffPost/YouGov survey finds.
Members of both parties, none too surprisingly, think the opposing party is plagued with serious and badly handled issues regarding sexual harassment. Three-quarters of Democrats and Democratic leaners say that sexual harassment is a somewhat or very serious problem in the GOP, while a near-identical 76 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners say it’s a somewhat or very serious problem among Democrats. (Partisans and independents who lean toward those parties hold opinions that are, in many cases, strikingly similar. In the interest of brevity, the groups will be referred to as just Democrats and Republicans through the rest of this article.)
Majorities on both sides also say their own party has done at least somewhat well in responding to allegations made against politicians within the party, although just 19 percent of Democrats and 22 percent of Republicans credit their party with doing very well.
But Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to admit there’s an issue close to home. Sixty percent of Democrats say their party has at least a somewhat serious problem with sexual harassment, while just 18 percent say that it does not. By contrast, Republicans are close to evenly split, with 40 percent saying sexual harassment presents a somewhat or very serious issue for the GOP, and 43 percent say that it’s not very or not at all serious.
Democrats say, 37 percent to 29 percent, that Franken should resign, with the rest uncertain. Republicans are divided on Moore, with 37 percent saying he should drop out and 40 percent that he should remain in the race. (Polling on both Moore and Franken has varied across outlets.)
The results are the latest in a series of polls to find Republicans or Trump supporters especially prone to concern about sexual harassment taking place among the ranks of their political opponents. Trump voters are far likelier, for instance, to think workplace harassment is a very serious problem in Hollywood than to consider it an equal problem elsewhere in the nation. They’re also, according to one survey experiment, likelier to consider underreporting of sexual harassment a problem if they’re first asked about Democratic or liberal-leaning figures.
Just 3 percent of Democrats say the party has responded too strongly to accusations against Democratic politicians, with 27 percent saying it has not responded strongly enough and the rest uncertain or saying that the response has been about right. Among Republicans, 17 percent say that the GOP’s response to sexual harassment accusations in the party has been too strong, and 22 percent say that it hasn’t been strong enough.
Opinions about sexual harassment have become rapidly polarized in recent years, with concern spiking among Democrats and independents while remaining flat among Republicans. That’s led to a re-evaluation on the left of politicians including Bill Clinton, whom most Hillary Clinton voters now think faced credible allegations of sexual harassment and assault. But few Americans perceive much of a sea change. Just 28 percent of Democrats, and a quarter of Republicans, believe their own party has gotten better at dealing with issues related to sexual harassment over the past two decades.
Partisanship is the overriding factor driving responses to the poll. But within both parties, there are significant divisions by gender. Male Democrats are 12 points likelier than female Democrats to think the party handles harassment accusations well, and 13 points likelier to believe it has recently improved in how it deals with those issues. Male Republicans are 21 points likelier than female Republicans to dismiss sexual harassment as a non-serious issue within the party, although they’re also 17 points likelier to say that the GOP has not handled accusations well.
Female Democrats say by an 18-point margin that Franken should resign, while male Democrats say by a 4-point margin that he should stay in office. Female Republicans say by a 14-point margin that Moore should drop out, while male Republicans say by a 17-point margin that he should remain in the race.
Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Nov. 16-17 among U.S. adults using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.
HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.
Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.