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Monica Lewinsky – Consensual Adult or Victim?

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern who left a stain on Bill Clinton’s presidency, is now using her experiences to be a campaigner against bullying. Looking back on the sex scandal that led to Clinton’s impeachment nearly 20 years ago, do Americans consider her a victim or a willing accomplice?

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 69% of Likely U.S. Voters now believe the 22-year-old White House intern’s relationship with the 49-year-old president was a consensual one between two adults. Just 22% believe Lewinsky was the victim of an older, more powerful man. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Seventy-one percent (71%) of women describe it as a consensual relationship, compared to 66% of men.

Only 28% of all voters have a favorable opinion of Lewinsky, while 57% share an unfavorable one. This includes five percent (5%) with a Very Favorable view and 22% with a Very Unfavorable one. Three percent (3%) say they have never heard of her, and another 12% are undecided.

Lewinsky is now using her notoriety to be an anti-bullying ambassador, but 51% of voters think her efforts will have no impact on the problem. Twenty-two percent (22%) believe she will help the anti-bullying cause, while 16% say she will hurt it. Twelve percent (12%) are not sure.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on March 26 and 29, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

When asked which president has been the most influential in the past 60 years, 13% of voters say Clinton. Ronald Reagan leads the list with 32% support, while nine percent (9%) feel that way about President Obama.

Democrats are less likely to consider Lewinsky a victim of the Democratic president than Republicans and unaffiliated voters are. But most voters in all three groups consider the sexual relationship between Clinton and the intern to be a consensual one.

The majority of voters across nearly all demographic categories share that view and also hold an unfavorable opinion of Lewinsky.

Interestingly, GOP voters have a more unfavorable view of her than Democrats and unaffiliateds do.

Women dislike the now-41-year-old Lewinsky more than men do. Even voters who think Lewinsky was a victim have a slightly more unfavorable than favorable view of her.

Voters under 40 are more likely to think Lewinsky’s efforts will help the fight against bullying.

In a 2012 survey, most working Americans said their workplace is free of gender discrimination and didn’t know anyone who’s been a victim of it. But women continued to be more skeptical than men.

Thirty-two percent (32%) of voters favored Obama’s impeachment last July, but nearly twice as many (58%) were opposed. 

Hillary Clinton remains the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, and 54% think Bill Clinton will help his wife’s run for the White House. Only 13% think he will hurt her candidacy.

With Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush likely to run for the presidency next year, there has been a Clinton or a Bush running in every presidential election but one since 1988. Forty-one percent (41%) of voters are worried the United States is developing an unofficial group of royal families with too much influence over government and politics, but 57% don’t share that concern about “dynasty” politics.

Bullying remains a serious issue for Americans, but now more are saying it's a problem for the schools, not parents, to handle.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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