Sexual Harassment May Be The Only Thing Party Leaders Can Agree On

Sexual Harassment May Be The Only Thing Party Leaders Can Agree On

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup. Today’s theme song: “Making Our Dreams Come True” from the television show “Laverne & Shirley.”

Poll of the week

A new YouGov survey shows that Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to believe that sexual harassment is a serious problem in the United States. As on many issues, the bases of the two parties are far apart. Unlike on many issues, however, elected officials in the parties seem to be more aligned.

YouGov found that:

  • 64 percent of U.S. adults who are Democrats believe sexual harassment is a very serious problem; only 37 percent of Republicans said the same.
  • Democrats, at 41 percent, were also more likely than Republicans, 34 percent, to believe that sexual harassment was a major problem in Congress, where the two major congressional figures most recently accused of sexual misconduct were Democrats. (The split was even larger among Hillary Clinton voters and Donald Trump voters, at 49 to 35 percent.)
  • Likewise, more Democrats believe their party has problems with sexual harassment than Republicans believe the GOP does. A plurality of Democrats (30 percent) said the Democratic Party has a “very serious” problem with sexual harassment, while only 15 percent of Republicans said the GOP does.
  • Two-thirds (67 percent) of Democrats and 74 percent of Clinton voters said the Democratic Party had at least a “somewhat serious” problem with sexual harassment. Just 50 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of Trump voters felt that way about the Republican Party.

The partisan gap on this issue may come down to cultural differences between the parties about gender generally. It may reflect sentiments about President Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault by numerous women. That is, Republicans may simply be less likely to believe sexual harassment charges because they think their party leader was falsely accused. Or maybe some respondents are simply viewing the questions through a partisan lens because of Trump, and taking sexual harassment seriously is the “Democratic answer.” It could be all of the above.

Here’s the thing, though: The party bases are split, but Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress seem largely on the same page.

The GOP, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, didn’t seem particularly eager to call on either Democratic Rep. John Conyers or Sen. Al Franken to resign after allegations (and an admission in Franken’s case) of sexual misconduct.

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