Last week, advice columnist E. Jean Carroll joined the growing list of women who’ve accused President Donald Trump of sexual assault or sexual harassment. Her story also joins the long list of stories about Trump’s behavior toward women that have failed to upend public opinion, a new survey finds.
Those opinions, in many cases, soured long ago: Less than 40% of the country believes that the president respects women. But as Trump’s presidency ticks onward, it’s increasingly difficult to imagine what would change the minds of people who still think that, or capture the attention of those who are still reserving judgment. Many didn’t even hear about the latest allegations.
In an excerpt of her memoir published Friday, Carroll wrote that Trump assaulted her in a department store dressing room in the mid-’90s. Trump denied the accusation, saying in one statement that he had never met Carroll (a photograph included in the story showed otherwise) and in a later interview claimed she was “not my type.”
The accusation generated significant coverage. But in a news cycle already saturated with other stories, including tensions with Iran, it got relatively short shrift in newspapers like The New York Times and on Sunday morning talk shows.
“The day that [Carroll’s allegation] dropped it felt like it was very much a part of the conversation on Twitter,” Shani Hilton, deputy managing editor for news at the Los Angeles Times, told CNN on Sunday. “It was really blowing up ― I mean all day long … Two days later, it kind of feels like it’s faded away.”
In a HuffPost/YouGov survey conducted Friday night and Saturday, just 11% of Americans said they’d heard a lot about Carroll’s allegations. About half those polled, 53%, hadn’t heard anything at all. (Because survey respondents tend to be more politically engaged, these numbers are, if anything, probably a little high.)
For the sake of comparison, polling this year found that respondents had heard more about the renewed debate over the Hyde Amendment, the mass shooting in Virginia Beach, the new Alabama abortion law, the release of the Mueller report, the blackface controversy involving Virginia’s governor and the end of the government shutdown.
“In the case of Trump, the sheer number of sexual misconduct allegations seems to have had a desensitizing effect,” Vox’s Anna North wrote, “with the press and the public beginning to treat an account of sexual assault by the US commander-in-chief as simply business as usual.”
That ― along with the general stability of Trump’s ratings ― may help to explain why views have changed so little since Trump’s time on the campaign trail.
In October 2016, days prior to the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump could be heard bragging about sexual assault, 59% of the public said they thought that Trump did not respect women. After the tape’s release, the same 59% of the public said they thought Trump did not respect women. Today, that number is 51% ― an improvement due mainly to consolidating support among Republicans, whose faith in Trump’s respectfulness rose 20 points.
In 2016, 44% of those polled said that assuming the allegations were true, they should disqualify Trump from the presidency. Today, 40% say the same.
The share of Americans who currently say they believe the allegations against Trump are generally credible (41%), who believe they’re not credible (29%), or say they’re unsure or haven’t heard enough (31%) are all within 3 points of the results of a poll of the same questions conducted immediately after the “Access Hollywood” tape’s release.
Only 11% of Trump voters today believe the accusations against Trump are credible. Only 4% of Hillary Clinton voters believe they are not. And only about half of nonvoters have an opinion one way or the other.
As is often the case, those political divides eclipse any gender divides. The most significant division between female and male Trump voters, for instance, is that the women are less likely to believe that the allegations against Trump ― assuming they’re true ― hold any relevance to his position as president.
The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted June 21-22 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.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.