WPRI 12/RWU Poll: Most in RI see sexual harassment as a serious problem

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – An overwhelming majority of Rhode Island voters think sexual harassment is a serious problem in society today, an exclusive WPRI 12/Roger Williams University poll released Tuesday shows.

The survey of 419 registered Rhode Island voters finds 85% classify sexual harassment as a very or somewhat serious problem. Just 11% say the problem is not too serious, and only 3% say it’s not serious at all.

Large majorities agree on the question across age, gender and partisan divisions, but there are differences in intensity. While 55% of women say sexual harassment is a “very serious” problem, only 34% of men say the same. Similarly, 52% of Democrats say the problem is “very serious,” versus 40% of independents and 33% of Republicans.

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“Overwhelmingly people think this is a problem – it’s just the degree of the problem,” said Eyewitness News political analyst Joe Fleming, who conducted the poll. “It’s been so much in the news the last three or four months, people really understand what’s going on here.”

The findings come as state Rep. Teresa Tanzi moves to form a legislative commission that will look at state law on sexual harassment in Rhode Island. Tanzi, D-Narragansett, made headlines last fall when she responded to the #MeToo movement by revealing that a high-ranking lawmaker once suggested to her that sexual favors would help advance her proposals.

The landline and cell-phone interview poll was conducted Sunday, Feb. 25, through Wednesday, Feb. 28, by Fleming & Associates of Cumberland, Rhode Island. The survey has an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus approximately 4.8 percentage points. Fleming has been conducting polls for WPRI 12 since 1984.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

Tim White ( twhite@wpri.com ) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook