Poll: Most say GOP too lenient on sexual misconduct

Emily Swanson and Laurie Kellman
Associated Press

Washington – Most Americans think the Republican Party has been too lenient when it comes to reports of sexual misconduct, but they’re split on how well the Democrats are handling the allegations, a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows.

The poll shows 60 percent of Americans think Republicans are too lenient on politicians from their own party who are accused of sexual misconduct. Another 31 percent think their reaction is about right and 7 percent think they’re too hard on them.

The survey was conducted just before Alabama voted to elect Democrat Doug Jones to the Senate over his rival, Roy Moore, who stood accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls while he was in his 30s. Moore, who denied the allegations, was endorsed by President Donald Trump.

There’s more of a split when it comes to the Democratic Party, with 43 percent of Americans thinking it’s too lenient on party members who have been accused, 44 percent saying their reaction is about right and 10 percent saying it’s been too hard on them. The poll came after Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota announced his resignation amid accusations of sexual misconduct.

Fifty-four percent of Democrats think their party’s reaction has been about right, while 53 percent of Republicans think their party’s reaction has been about right.

Americans elected Trump even after they heard a recording of him boasting of groping women and knew he stood accused of assaulting or harassing more than a dozen women. He denied any misconduct and vowed to sue his accusers. Nearly a year into his presidency, that hasn’t happened.

Some things to know from the AP-NORC poll:

  • Majorities of Americans think broad sectors of society are not doing enough to prevent sexual misconduct, including institutions ranging from the entertainment industry (74 percent) to colleges and universities (67 percent), state (51 percent) and federal governments (61 percent), the military (61 percent) and the news media (56 percent).
  • Thirty-four percent of women say they worry at least somewhat about being victims of sexual misconduct, while an equal percentage of men worry at least somewhat about being falsely accused. A quarter of men say they’ve done something that might be construed as sexual misconduct, even inadvertently.
  • A third of working Americans say sexual misconduct is a very serious problem in their own workplace. About half say they’ve been required at their current job to take some sort of training to prevent sexual misconduct.
  • Two in 10 Americans who have held at least one job outside the home say they personally have been victims of sexual misconduct at work, including 3 in 10 women and 1 in 10 men. Thirty percent say they’ve witnessed sexual misconduct in the workplace.
  • Most think recent reports of sexual misconduct will result in more people speaking out when they are victims of sexual misconduct (56 percent) and companies developing stricter policies against misconduct (54 percent). Forty-three percent think it’s likely that more people will speak out if they witness misconduct.

The AP-NORC poll surveyed 1,020 adults from Dec. 7-11 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

Interviews were conducted online and using landlines and cellphones.