Many think the issue of sexual harassment — embodied in the #MeToo movement — will work to the advantage of Democrats in upcoming elections. A mid-December NBC News/Wall Street Journal Survey gave the party a three to one advantage over Republicans on the matter. But it is hardly guaranteed to do so.
Views of sexual harassment and of gender issues generally differ sharply by age, sex and partisan allegiance — all of which create substantial unpredictability. The issue has the potential to accelerate the growing discontent among well-educated white women with the Republican Party. But it could also intensify hostility to the liberal agenda among conservatives, particularly white men, many of whom view women’s complaints of discrimination as “an attempt to gain advantage” in the workplace.
This complex dynamic is illuminated, for example, in the work of Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, a psychologist at Tufts, who recently reported a growing divergence on gender issues between male and female voters under the age of 30.
In her paper, “How Gender Mattered to Millennials in the 2016 Election and Beyond,” Kawashima-Ginsberg found that in an election in which allegations of harassment and abuse against Donald Trump were central, support for the Democratic nominee dropped by 15 points from 2008 to 2016 among all young men between the ages of 18 to 29 (from 62 to 47 percent) and by 6 points among all women (from 69 to 63 percent). At the same time, turnout among young white men, many of whom supported Trump, shot up significantly.
“2016 saw the greatest number of votes cast by young white men in the past 12 years — markedly higher than their female counterparts,” Kawashima-Ginsberg wrote.