Almost half of American women, 47 percent, say they’ve been sexually assaulted, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. The independent Quinnipiac University Poll asked a random sample of 1,747 American adults: “Have you ever been sexually assaulted, meaning someone touched you in an inappropriate, sexual manner without your consent, or not?” Among all adults, 32 percent say they were assaulted, including 17 percent of men and 47 percent of women. The pattern is consistent across all age groups as 33 percent of people 18 to 34 years old, 30 percent of people 35 to 49 years old, 36 percent of people 50 to 64 years old and 34 percent of people over 65 years old say they were sexually assaulted.
Given the broad definition of sexual assault — which could cover everything from rape to an unwelcome pat on the rear end, the percentage of those reporting sexual assault should not be surprising. (It’s disconcerting that we fail to make meaningful distinctions between vulgar behavior and criminal conduct, but that’s a whole other discussion.) Especially striking is how the avalanche of reports has affected Americans:
People coming forward with stories of sexual harassment and sexual assault will change the nation for the better, 52 percent of Americans say, while 9 percent say it will make the situation worse and 33 percent say it will not have much impact.
The media get the best grades for how it is handling sexual harassment and sexual assault in its industry, as Americans approve 48 – 42 percent. Approval for other groups are negative:
21 – 60 percent for how the Republican Party is handling sexual harassment and sexual assault in politics; 28 – 50 percent for the Democratic Party; [and] 38 – 51 percent for the entertainment industry.”
Democrats are trying to sharpen the partisan divide by chasing out their own members such as former representative John Conyers (D-Mich.) and now Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) (The poll was completed before Franken’s announcement and mostly before Conyers’s resignation.) And President Trump will make the Democrats’ job a whole lot easier:
Americans disapprove 63 – 22 percent of the way President Donald Trump is handling sexual harassment and sexual assault. Republicans approve 55 – 24 percent, the only party, gender, age or racial group to approve. It is hypocritical for President Trump to criticize men accused of sexual harassment, 73 percent of Americans say, while 16 percent say he has a right to criticize these men. The U.S. Congress should investigate accusations of sexual harassment against President Trump, Americans say 70 – 25 percent. [Emphasis added.]
The White House should be panicking about now. Running on investigating Trump’s alleged sexual predation could be a winning message. If Republicans circle the wagons around Trump, they may pay a steep price and lose their majority in one or both houses. If the GOP decides it’s better to go along with the 70 percent, then the Russia investigation might become Trump’s second-worst nightmare. What’s more: Asked if a politician should resign if accused by multiple, credible people of sexual harassment or assault, 66 percent say yes.
There is a gender gap in some of these responses. (Only 18 percent of women approve of how Trump is handling the issue; 26 percent of men do.) However, both men and women overwhelmingly find fault with him on this topic.
We’ve made the case that the movement against sexual assault fueled by the account of previous, sympathetic victims should not be underestimated. If politics follows culture as many conservatives have long argued, the GOP and Trump in particular are in for a shellacking.