University survey finds Americans deeply divided by #MeToo

Avery Blasko, Contributing Writer

A survey conducted by YouGov for the Bucknell Institute for Public Policy revealed just how divided opinions on the #MeToo movement are. The survey showed that many Americans believe that the movement will lead to changes in policies in the workplace regarding sexual assault, and that it will empower more women to speak about their experiences. The survey also showed that divisions exist about whether people believe the movement has gone too far, or not far enough.

The sample consisted of 1000 participants through stratified sampling from the 2016 American Community Survey (ACS). According to the survey, about 81 percent of Americans said they were familiar with the #MeToo movement. Of these people, 41 percent of people had a favorable view of the movement, 21 percent had an unfavorable view, and 38 percent had either never heard of it or had no opinion on it. The results of the survey showed how different groups of people viewed the movement. Based on the results, women viewed it more favorably than men (61 percent and 39 percent respectively). It also showed differences in what varying age groups thought of the movement, as 58 percent of people under the age of 35 were favorable of the movement, and only 50 percent of people ages 65 and above felt the same. The biggest difference in opinions came from people of different parties. Within registered Democrats, 63 percent were in favor of the movement, while only 37 percent of Independents and 20 percent of Republicans are in favor of the movement. The group of people who look most favorably on the movement are Democratic women (71 percent).

“The #MeToo movement has, in many ways, become a defining partisan issue of our time,” associate professor of political science and director of the Bucknell Survey Research Laboratory Chris Ellis said. “Differences in how Democrats and Republicans perceive #MeToo are as large or larger than differences they have on issues such as immigration, climate change, tax cuts, or welfare. #MeToo is maybe the clearest example yet of how our growing political culture war swallows up everything in its path.”

The results of the survey also showed a difference in opinion on how far the #MeToo Movement has gone. About 40 percent of people said that it has “gone too far,” while only 19 percent stated that it “had not gone far enough.” 47 percent of American men thought that the movement had gone too far, compared to 34 percent of women. Party lines again showed differences in opinion. Only 18 percent of Democratic women thought the movement had gone too far, compared to 66 percent  of Republican women. Only nine percent of Republican women thought the movement had not gone far enough, compared to 32 percent of Democratic women. The men also had very different views, with 19 percent of Democratic men thinking it was too far, compared to 75 percent of Republican men. While 27 percent of Democratic men believed the movement could be taken further, only two percent of Republican men thought it had not gone far enough.

Despite the differences in opinions stated above, nearly 90 percent of people who took the survey said that it was likely that #MeToo would cause changes in workplace policies regarding sexual harassment and that it would empower more women to speak up with allegations of harassment or assault. Only 21 percent of people, however, said that the movement was “very likely” to lead to a decrease in sexual assault. One last interesting statistic that the survey found was that nearly all Republicans believed this movement would lead to the unfair punishment of men (93 percent total). A large number of Democrats also believed this, with 73 percent of men and 55 percent of women answering that this would be “very likely.”

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