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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.drop out of his race. Moore, though, isn’t a member of Congress.

">1 Ryan did say Thursday that Conyers should step down — 10 days after the initial allegations.

Despite their party’s heightened opinions on sexual harassment, Democratic officials seem to be reacting to the allegations in much the same why as their Republican counterparts. Democratic leadership has not called on Franken to resign, and it took 10 days for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to ask Conyers to step down, same as Ryan. Initially, Pelosi called Conyers an “icon” and said he deserved the benefit of a congressional investigation.

Democrats seem to still be sorting this issue out, and there is the potential for conflict within the party in the next few months. That may be part of the reason why a number of rank-and-file Democratic members felt comfortable in calling on Conyers to resign earlier than leadership did.

Other polling nuggets

  • As the GOP tax reform bill gets closer to a vote in the Senate, an Ipsos poll found that opposition to it is climbing, from 41 percent in October to 49 percent in November. Support for the bill was at only 29 percent. Other polls have showed the bill similarly unpopular.
  • As I noted on Wednesday, three surveys conducted this week in the Alabama special Senate election from Change Research, Emerson College and JMC Analytics show Republican Roy Moore ahead of Democrat Doug Jones. The surveys have Moore up by 5, 6 and 5 percentage points, respectively.
  • 48 percent of Americans said military force against countries that have threatened but not attacked the U.S. is rarely (28 percent) or never (20 percent) justified, according to a Pew Research Center survey. That’s the highest combined share Pew has found since at least 2003.
  • American approval of the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) has dipped in the latest Gallup survey, from 55 percent in April to 50 percent now.
  • A slim majority of voters, 52 percent, supported net neutrality in a Morning Consult survey after being told it was “a set of rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which say Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and Verizon, cannot block, throttle or prioritize certain content on the Internet.” Only 19 percent were opposed.
  • Fewer adults (31 percent) were born-again Christians in an average of American Culture & Faith Institute surveys in 2017 than at any point since at least 1991. Note, though, that the American Culture & Faith Institute classifies born-against Christians “based not on self-report by survey respondents but on their theological perspective about sin and salvation.”
  • The vast majority of millennials, 71 percent, said that America needs a third political party, according to a University of Chicago poll. That may seem impressive, but it’s only a little bit higher than the 61 percent of all adults who said the same thing in a September Gallup survey.
  • 57 percent of LGBTQ Americans told the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health that they “have personally experienced slurs about their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
  • Democrat Keisha Lance Bottoms leads independent Mary Norwood 42 percent to 39 percent ahead of the Dec. 5 Atlanta mayoral runoff, according to an Opinion Savvy survey.
  • Millennials are the least likely age group to say a woman should take a man’s last name after getting married, according to a YouGov survey. Just 47 percent of Millennials chose “woman takes the man’s last name” vs. “woman and man keep original name” or “take whichever last name sounds better.” A majority of those aged 35 to 54 (59 percent) and those aged 55 and older (64 percent) said the woman should take the man’s last name.

Trump’s job approval rating

Trump’s job approval rating stayed steady this week at 38.2 percent. Same with his disapproval rating at 55.8 percent. Last Wednesday, Trump’s approval rating was 38.2 percent and his disapproval rating was 56 percent.

The generic ballot

Democrats are ahead of Republicans by a 45.9 percent to 38.1 percent margin on the generic congressional ballot. That’s not much different from last Wednesday, when Democrats held a 46.8 percent to 38.8 percent advantage.


  1. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did call on Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore to drop out of his race. Moore, though, isn’t a member of Congress.

Harry Enten was a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight.