Americans Think Sexual Harassment Is A Very Serious Problem -- In Hollywood

There's less agreement about the shadow it casts on the rest of the country.
Harvey Weinstein arrives at the 89th Academy Awards in Hollywood on Feb. 26, 2017.
Harvey Weinstein arrives at the 89th Academy Awards in Hollywood on Feb. 26, 2017.
Mike Blake/Reuters

Most Americans think workplace sexual harassment is a serious problem, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds ― but many think of it as an issue that’s especially pronounced in the entertainment industry, rather than in the U.S. as a whole.

Eight in 10 Americans polled say workplace sexual harassment is at least a “somewhat serious” problem in Hollywood, with 74 percent saying it’s at least “somewhat serious” in the United States.

Although 53 percent call the problem in Hollywood “very serious,” however, just over one-third say the same about workplace harassment nationwide.

The survey comes in the wake of a litany of sexual assault and harassment allegations against film executive Harvey Weinstein, a story that has captured the attention of much of the nation. Eighty-six percent of Americans say they’ve heard at least something about the allegations, and 45 percent say that they’ve heard a lot about them. (For contrast, about one-third said they’d heard a lot about the Obamacare repeal bill that passed the House of Representatives in May.)

But the survey also suggests that some Americans believe the worst sexual harassment is largely confined to Hollywood. Men, for instance, are about equally as likely as women to think sexual harassment is a very serious problem in Hollywood, but 15 points less likely to think it’s very serious across the country.

As is often the case, the difference is even greater between those of different political persuasions. Voters who supported President Donald Trump ― many of whom may have already spurned Hollywood as a bastion of out-of-touch liberalism ― are about as likely as Hillary Clinton supporters to call sexual harassment in the entertainment industry a “very serious” problem. They’re 31 points less likely, however, to think it’s equally problematic in the rest of the U.S.


In many cases, the allegations against Weinstein sound nearly indistinguishable from those levied against Trump in the run-up to last year’s election. Sixty-two percent of Americans polled consider the accusations against Weinstein to be credible, with just 3 percent saying they’re not credible and the rest uncertain. However, just 45 percent of respondents say the accusations levied at the president are credible, a number that’s relatively unchanged since last October. Currently, 18 percent say the allegations against Trump are not credible, with the remainder unsure.

The difference in perceptions of Weinstein and Trump is, once again, largely political. A majority of both Clinton and Trump voters ― 74 percent and 66 percent, respectively ― say the allegations against Weinstein are credible. But 83 percent of Clinton voters, and just 8 percent of Trump voters, say the same of the allegations against Trump.

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:

Another poll released this week also highlights how partisanship affects Americans’ views of sexual harassment.

According to a Washington Post/ABC News survey published on Tuesday, 64 percent of Americans now view workplace sexual harassment as a serious problem, up 17 points since 2011. Most respondents felt that men who harass female co-workers were unlikely to face consequences.

Results, however, were significantly more polarized than they were six years ago, with Democrats’ and independents’ rising concerns about harassment contrasting sharply against Republicans’ more stagnant opinions on the issue. Seventy-nine percent of Democrats and two-thirds of independents, but just 42 percent of Republicans, considered sexual harassment to be a serious problem. The gap between men and women, by contrast, was far smaller.

That survey also highlights how personally the issue resonates for many women. One-third of women polled said they’d faced sexual advances from men who worked with them and had influence over their jobs. Most said they’d faced inappropriate advances in some area of their lives.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Oct. 12-13 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.