Washington DC, October 31, 2018 - A recent Ipsos/NPR study finds large partisan and gender gaps in beliefs regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment, though partisanship is the biggest driver of differences.
For example, 80% of men and 73% of women believe that those who are accused of sexual harassment should be given the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise – a 7-point difference. Not only is the partisan gap much larger at 16 percentage points (70% of Democrats vs. 86% of Republicans), it has widened since our initial study on sexual harassment conducted last year (75% of Democrats vs. 80% of Republicans, a 5-point difference). In another example, there is a 17-point difference between Democrats and Republicans that agree it is sometimes difficult to tell what constitutes sexual assault (56% of Republicans vs. 39% of Democrats), and a 26-point difference when the same question is asked about sexual harassment (65% of Republicans vs. 39% of Democrats). This gap on whether it is hard to tell what constitutes sexual harassment has widened by 16 percentage points since 2017.
Party line divisions regarding the #MeToo movement are also extreme. Three-quarters of Republicans believe that the movement has gone too far (75%), while only one-fifth of Democrats say the same (21%). While a gender gap also exists (51% of men vs. 36% of women), it is noticeably smaller.
Although Americans are split on whether or not their views of what constitutes both sexual harassment (54%) and assault (51%) have become clearer in the past year, our study shows a general conceptual understanding of the differences between the two. In open-ended questions asking how they would define sexual assault and sexual harassment, respondents tend to use more terms denoting coercive action when it comes to the former (e.g. “forcing,” “consent,” “attacked”), and more terms denoting verbal or emotional forms of abuse when it comes to the latter (e.g. “feel,” “make,” “saying”) [see topic modeling below].
About the Study
These are findings from Ipsos polls conducted on behalf of NPR. For the sexual harassment survey, conducted on October 22-23, 2018, a sample of 1,003 adults 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii were interviewed online in English. The sample includes 453 males, 550 females, 326 Republicans, 380 Democrats, and 211 Independents. For the sexual assault survey, conducted on October 23-24, 2018, a sample of 1,006 adults 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii were interviewed online in English. The sample includes 439 males, 567 females, 343 Democrats, 328 Republicans, and 224 Independents.
The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.
Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,003, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-5.0 percentage points).
The sexual harassment study also has a credibility interval of 5.2 for men, 4.8 for women, 6.2 percentage points for Republicans, 5.7 for Democrats, and 7.7 percentage points for Independents. The sexual assault study has a credibility interval of 5.3 percentage points for men, 4.7 percentage points for women, 6.0 percentage points for Democrats, 6.2 percentage points for Republicans and 7.5 percentage points for Independents.
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