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Sex Charges Against Trump Haven’t Changed Many Minds

Monday, October 31, 2016

Most voters consider the allegations of sexual harassment by multiple women against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump important to their vote, but most also say the charges haven't affected how they will vote.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 57% of Likely U.S. Voters say the allegations of sexual harassment made against Trump by several women are at least somewhat important to their vote, including 34% who say they are Very Important. Forty-two percent (42%) say the allegations are not important to their vote, with 26% who say they are Not At All Important. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

By comparison, 70% of voters say Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information by using a private e-mail server when she was secretary of State is important to their vote, with 49% who say it’s Very Important. This survey was taken prior to the FBI's announcement Friday that it is reopening that investigation.

Only 12% of voters say the sexual harassment allegations against Trump changed their decision on which presidential candidate to vote for. Eighty-three percent (83%) say the issue hasn’t changed their mind.

Forty percent (40%) of women say the allegations are Very Important to their vote, compared to 27% of men. But women (10%) are even less likely than men (14%) to say the allegations have caused them to change their vote.

Fifty percent (50%) of all voters believe the media have covered the allegations against Trump too much, while 13% say the charges have been covered too little. Thirty-four percent (34%) rate the media coverage as been about right.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on October 26-27, 2016 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.

The allegations began to surface following the release an 11-year-old video in which Trump makes remarks about wanting to grab attractive women. Trump claimed the comments were merely “locker room talk” and not indicative of actual behavior. Following the video’s release, Trump countered that Hillary Clinton was an enabler who allowed her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to sexually assault women for years. Voters tend to agree with Trump that Bill Clinton's behavior was worse than Trump’s comments, but not surprisingly there's a sharp partisan difference of opinion. 

A similar partisan divide can be seen on the sexual harassment issue. Sixty percent (60%) of Democrats say the allegations are Very Important to their vote, a view shared by just 10% of Republicans and 27% of voters not affiliated with either major party.

While only 18% of Democrats say the allegations have made them change their mind, that’s twice the number of Republicans and unaffiliateds who feel that way.

Eighty-one percent (81%) of Republicans and 51% of unaffiliated voters say the media have covered the allegations too much. Just 22% of Democrats agree, while most (54%) say the coverage has been about right.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of Trump supporters say the allegations are Not At All Important to their vote. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Clinton supporters say the allegations are Very Important, and 25% say the charges caused them to change their vote.

Eighty-seven percent (87%) of Trump voters say the media have focused too much on the sexual harassment allegations, while most Clinton backers (75%) say the coverage has been about right.

Most voters still share unfavorable opinions of the two major party candidates for president. 

Voters continue to strongly believe that the media is more interested in controversy than in the issues when it comes to the presidential race. As in previous presidential election cycles, voters expect reporters covering political campaigns to help their favorite candidates and think it's far more likely they will help Clinton than Trump.

Fortunately for both major party candidates who have been beset with questions about their honesty and integrity, most voters put their policy positions ahead of their character.

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

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