Poll: Voters Don’t Know What To Think Of The Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden

A majority don’t yet have an opinion on Tara Reade’s accusations, and only about one-fifth have heard a lot about it.
In this screengrab from Joebiden.com, Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks from his home on April 8, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.
In this screengrab from Joebiden.com, Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks from his home on April 8, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Handout via Getty Images

Most voters aren’t yet sure what to make of the sexual assault allegation levied against Joe Biden by a former Senate aide, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds, while a plurality believe that the multiple sexual misconduct allegations against President Trump are generally credible. Neither candidate is seen by a majority of the voting public as respectful of women.

Just 21% of voters say they’ve heard a lot about Tara Reade’s allegation that Biden assaulted her in 1993, with 53% saying they’ve heard only a little and the rest that they’d heard nothing at all. The poll was taken prior to Biden’s interview on Friday with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” during which he flatly denied Reade’s allegations. (Because survey respondents tend to be more civically engaged than the public at large, the reported level of attention is probably, if anything, on the high side.)

Three in 10 voters say they consider the allegation against Biden generally credible, with 17% saying it’s not credible. The majority, 53%, aren’t sure or say they haven’t heard enough to say. If the allegation is true, 29% of voters say, it disqualifies Biden from the presidency. Forty percent consider it relevant but not disqualifying, with 18% dismissing it as irrelevant.

So far, there is little indication the allegation will have a significant impact on Biden’s political standing. Most recent public polling has shown President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn has hurt the Republican, giving Biden an advantage both nationally and in key swing states.

In March, Reade accused Biden of kissing her and penetrating her with his fingers without her consent in a Senate hallway in 1993, when she was a staff assistant in his office. She had previously come forward in April 2019 to say that Biden had sexually harassed and inappropriately touched her.

Top Biden aides at the time have said they never heard of the accusation, despite Reade’s insistence she informed them. Biden has steadfastly denied assaulting Reade.

“It never happened,” Biden said on Friday morning during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” around the same time he released a statement suggesting “responsible news organizations should examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story.”

Media attention to Reade’s accusation began growing earlier in the week, after Business Insider reported a neighbor of Reade’s said she had told her about the incident a few years later.

Most Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters, 57%, were reserving judgment on Reade’s allegation, but only about one-quarter said it would be disqualifying if true.

Results of a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.
Results of a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.
Ariel Edwards-Levy/HuffPost

Voters’ views about Trump’s behavior are more settled, and on balance, more negative. A 54% majority say they’ve heard a lot about the allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment levied against Trump during the 2016 election and in the years since, with another 38% saying they’ve heard at least a little.

At least 22 women have accused Trump of some form of sexual misconduct. An audio recording of a 2005 Trump appearance on “Access Hollywood” leaked shortly before the 2016 presidential election featured him boasting about sexually assaulting women. The tape, which emerged after more than a dozen women had already accused Trump of sexual assault, led to calls from some Republicans for Trump to drop out of the presidential race.

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump said on the tape. “You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Trump and his campaign dismissed the recording as “locker room talk.” Trump later said he would sue the women who had accused him of sexual assault, but never followed through on the threat.

Forty-five percent of voters say they consider the allegations against Trump generally credible, with 26% saying that they’re not credible, and 29% saying they’re unsure or haven’t heard enough to say. Roughly a third say that the allegations, if true, disqualify Trump from the presidency, with another 34% saying it would be relevant but not disqualifying, and 21% calling it irrelevant. (The order in which the questions about Biden and Trump were asked was rotated for different respondents.)

About half of Republican and Republican-leaning voters, 49%, say they don’t find the accusations against Trump to be credible. Just 12% consider them disqualifying if true.

Results of a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.
Results of a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.
Ariel Edwards-Levy/HuffPost

Opinions on the accusations against Trump haven’t varied much over the past few years. In an October 2016 poll, 42% of voters called the allegations against him generally credible. In June 2019, after advice columnist E. Jean Carroll wrote that Trump had assaulted her in the mid-’90s ― an accusation that garnered even less attention than Reade’s ― the number was 46%.

Overall, voters currently say, 53% to 33%, that Trump does not respect women. They’re split, 39% to 36%, on whether Biden does, with roughly one-quarter unsure.

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 April 28-29 among U.S. adults, including 776 registered voters, 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.