Nearly three years ago, when the story of Harvey Weinstein finally got told, the #MeToo movement burst into prominence and rewired public debate over sexually abuse. For a brief period of time, an accusation alone had the power to derail powerful men and to give accusers leverage to demand accountability — and for others to exploit the opening for other purposes. The latest Morning Consult poll (other aspects of which Allahpundit covered last night) suggests that people of all political stripes have begun to recoil from the #MeToo movement and bounce back toward due process.
This is long overdue, but what precisely caused it?
Voters’ views about political consequences for politicians who are facing credible accusations of sexual misconduct have shifted since that December 2017 poll, when allegations against Franken, Conyers and Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore moved the ongoing #MeToo discussion into the political arena.
Since the poll conducted that month, the share of voters who said a politician should resign in the face of credible allegations has dropped 18 points, while the share who said the decision should be made at the ballot box increased 10 points. (Respondents were shown this question before viewing the MSNBC clip.)
While most Democrats and independents in 2017 agreed that the elected official should resign, independents are now evenly split and only a plurality of Democrats still hold that view. And while nearly half of Republicans used to back resignation for such officials, a plurality now says the voters should decide the politician’s future.
The Morning Consult chart captures this best:
That’s quite a shift in just two-plus years. Even Republicans at the time eschewed due process by a double-digit plurality in the wake of the Big Harv/Roy Moore/Al Franken revelations. In the time since, overall support for immediate resignation in the face of a “credible accusation” has dropped 18 points, and the drop among Republican vote turns out to be the smallest, although they are the only demographic with a plurality tilt toward due process. Support for immediate resignations dropped 22 points among independents, and 20 points among the same Democrats that tried to apply the previous standard all through the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.
What changed? The subjective nature of the “credible accusation” standard became a lot more clear during those hearings, Tiana Lowe argues at the Washington Examiner. Republicans just got stung first, though. Now that Joe Biden is presently being hoist by his own “Believe All Women” petard, Democrats are now having second thoughts, too — and that spells the eventual end of the #MeToo approach:
We can pretty much pinpoint the moment of Republican backlash to the #MeToo movement to October 2018, when Morning Consult also found that that Republican support for the movement as a whole fell by seven points in just five months. By contrast, support among Democrats increased by two points in that amount of time. But now, Democratic voters are reaping the standards that their party leadership has sown. As Joe Biden faces a credible sexual assault allegation backed by at least one contemporaneously corroborating witness, far more evidence than any of the claims against Kavanaugh ever had, Democrats have begun to run away from the #MeToo movement. …
Good faith conservatives warned Democrats that perverting #MeToo evidentiary standards to that of considering allegations in and of themselves to be clear proof of wrongdoing would come back to bite them. Now, it finally has, and the Democratic Faustian bargain to destroy Kavanaugh has come full circle, murdering the #MeToo movement in the process.
It’s not dead yet, and due process hasn’t yet been fully re-embraced yet either. Some of the reaction among leading Democrats and media has been to simply shrug off the Tara Reade accusation as secondary to beating Donald Trump, rather than to reset the environment in which these accusations get scrutinized. Social panics don’t turn on a dime, and there seems little doubt that Democrats and media will pick up the very same cudgels to use against the next Republican and not worry much about hypocrisy or backfire.
The difference will be that the pitchfork-and-torch mobs will get much smaller the next time around. That is how social panics end — not because the people who push them for their own purposes stop, but because their influence erodes with each implosion. We then return to due process each time so that real victims can seek justice without mobs tearing everyone to pieces unjustly. Color me skeptical that we’ve reached that point yet on the Believe All Women!! mantra. But don’t say we weren’t warned about this …