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Poll: Democrats say sexual harassment is a problem. Republicans are less sure.

Democrats profess to take sexual harassment more seriously than Republicans. The Al Franken allegations could put that to the test.

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Sen. Al Franken during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in March 2017.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and now Al Franken are proof sexual harassment is a bipartisan problem. What isn’t bipartisan is how Democrats and Republicans think about the issue — Democrats profess to take it much more seriously.

Nearly eight in 10 Democrats say sexual harassment in the workplace is a “serious problem” in the United States, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. Two-thirds of independents say the same, but Republicans aren’t so sure: Only 42 percent of Republican respondents believe sexual harassment is a major problem.

The poll, conducted October 11 to 15 — just after the Weinstein story broke — among a random sample of 1,260 adults, found 64 percent of Americans think sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious problem, compared to 47 percent who said the same in a 2011 survey.

The good news is that sexual harassment is increasingly perceived as a problem among all ideological stripes of voters.

Looking back at a September Marist poll, 53 percent of Democrats perceived workplace sexual harassment as a problem, compared to 31 percent of Republicans. Moreover, 24 percent of Republicans said sexual harassment wasn’t an issue at all compared to 6 percent of Democrats, and 80 percent of Democrats described sexual harassment as sexual abuse, compared to 66 percent of Republicans.

Democratic views on sexual harassment could put pressure on Sen. Franken (D-MN) in the wake of allegations by a Los Angeles radio host that the Minnesota Democrat groped her without her consent in 2006.

Leeann Tweeden, a radio host for KABC in Los Angeles, on Thursday shared her story alleging the former Saturday Night Live cast member kissed and groped her without her consent on a USO tour more than a decade ago.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called for the Senate Ethics Committee to review the allegations, and Franken in a statement said he would cooperate.

The Republican Party has offered a mixed response to mounting allegations of sexual misconduct against GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore in recent days. McConnell and a number of other Republicans have called for Moore to step aside, and the Republican National Committee withdrew its support for him.

Moore, however, has remained defiant, and one poll showed 29 percent of Alabama voters said the allegations against him had made them more likely to support him.

In the wake of the Franken allegations, the pressure is on for him, and Democrats, to respond. There are already calls for him to be investigated, including from a number of Democratic leaders, and, from some, for him to resign.

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