Politics

Poll: Democrats Think Conyers Should Resign, Less Sure About Franken

Most Republicans think both should step down amid sexual misconduct allegations

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Most Democrats think Rep. John Conyers Jr. should resign from the seat he has held for 52 years, a new national poll found.

Fifty-two percent of those who identified as Democrats in an Economist/YouGov poll released Wednesday said the Michigan Democrat should step down after allegations that he sexually harassed employees surfaced last week.

Only 18 percent of Democratic respondents said Conyers should’t resign. Thirty percent were unsure. Conyers has “expressly and vehemently denied” the allegations.

More Democrats pulled punches regarding their support for Sen. Al Franken, who also had a slew of sexual misconduct allegations against him bubble up in the last two weeks.

Watch: What Are the Sexual Misconduct Charges Against Current Democratic Members?

Less than a third — 32 percent — of Democratic respondents to the Economist/YouGov poll said Franken should step down, compared to 39 percent who said he should not and just 29 percent who were unsure.

Republican respondents to the poll were more dubious of the two lawmakers. Most, 55 percent, said Franken step aside. The same percentage said Conyers should also resign even though three-quarters of Republican survey respondents said they either heard only “a little” or “nothing at all” about Conyers’ settlement.

The identified Democrats were a subset of a 1,500-person poll conducted through web-based interviews from Nov. 26 through Nov. 28, with a margin of error reported at 3.2 percentage points for the overall survey, with weighted totals. The margin of error for the identified Democrats was 5.1 percentage points. The margin of error for Republicans was 6.1 percentage points.

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Franken signaled Monday he would not step down and said he hopes he can eventually be “someone who can add something to this conversation” about the seriousness and consequences of sexual misconduct.

The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor lawmaker said Monday he is “tremendously sorry” if he made any woman feel uncomfortable around him but has denied his accusers' characterization of events or claimed not to remember them.

“I am embarrassed. I feel ashamed,” he said. “I’m going to start my job, go back to work, work as hard as I can for the people of Minnesota, and I’m going start that right now.”

The allegations against Conyers derive from documents from a 2015 settlement of roughly $27,000 that he reached with a former employee over claims of sexual harassment.

The national sentiment among the Democrats in the survey contrasts sharply with Democratic leadership in Washington, which has by and large called for due process in ethics committees before passing judgment.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer said lawmakers should wait until the “adjudicatory process” — which he believes needs to be strengthened to “protect the accuser” — plays out before taking appropriate action on any findings from a House ethics committee investigation.

In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi questioned the identity of Conyers’ accusers, declined to call for him to resign, and called him an “icon” for his work on women’s and civil rights.

Republicans and progressives alike pounced on Pelosi’s comments, which experts said undermined the Democratic message that it is the party that supports women.

Shortly after the interview, Pelosi’s office issued a statament to mitigate the damage of what many perceived as a defense of  Conyers.

“Zero tolerance means consequences,” Pelosi said in the statement, referring to Conyers’ decision to step down as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.

“We are at a watershed moment on this issue, and no matter how great an individual’s legacy, it is not a license for harassment,” she said. “I commend the brave women coming forward.”

The sexual misconduct allegations against Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore have provided a litmus test for Republicans who have cried foul about Democratic equivocation regarding members of their caucus.

Just 30 percent of Republicans responding to a national poll last week thought Moore should step down from the race despite detailed allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior.

President Donald Trump will not campaign for Moore in Alabama, the White House said Monday, though he has not revoked his support of the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice.

“We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat,” Trump said recently.

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