Goucher Poll Releases First Round of Inaugural Results

The newly launched Goucher Poll asked Maryland citizens for their opinions toward same-sex marriage, immigration and undocumented immigrants, pit bull “inherently dangerous” court ruling, expanded gambling, and perceptions of the most important issues facing the state. Highlights of the results regarding these most pressing issues in the state are detailed below.

The poll, conducted October 21-25, surveyed a dual-frame (landlines and cell phones) random sample of 667 Maryland residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.79 percentage points. The sample is of all Maryland residents and does not restrict by registered or likely voters.

Additional crosstabs of the survey results are available upon request, and Mileah Kromer, the director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center, is available for comment regardless of the weather. She can be reached at mileah.kromer@goucher.edu or 724-840-0990.

Most Important Issue

Forty-four percent of Maryland residents indicate that the economy is the most important issue facing the state today. Another 17 percent say the most important issue is education, followed by 7 percent saying it is taxes.

Expanded Gambling and Casinos

Half of Maryland residents indicate that they support expanded gambling in the state, while 44 percent oppose it. Residents who support expanded gambling say that bringing more revenue and jobs to the state are the primary reasons for their support, whereas opponents of the expansion express concerns over whether the expansion actually will benefit Maryland citizens or education in the state.

Nearly all Marylanders (87 percent) indicate that they have seen television ads on the gambling ballot initiative. These respondents were then asked to evaluate the “for expanded gambling,” or “Yes on 7,” ads and the “against expanded gambling,” or “No on 7,” ads.

  • For expanded gambling, or “Yes on 7,” television ads:
58 percent say these ads were “misleading”
30 percent say these ads were “truthful”
13 percent say they “don’t know” whether the ads were misleading or truthful
  • Against expanded gambling, or “No on 7,” television ads:
61 percent say these ads were “misleading”
24 percent say these ads were “truthful”
15 percent say they “don’t know” whether the ads were misleading or truthful

“Marylanders have been bombarded with television ads on the expanded gambling initiative, and the majority of residents view these ads as misleading. Despite this view, it appears that the promises of increased revenues and jobs are driving the opinion of Maryland residents,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center. “If the initiative does pass, it will be interesting to see which side was really reflecting reality in their ads.”

Same-Sex Marriage

Fifty-five percent of residents support allowing same-sex couples to marry legally in Maryland; 39 percent oppose it. When asked their opinion on the effects that legalizing same-sex marriage would have on society in general, 64 percent indicate that it would have either “no effect,” or it would “change society for the better.” Thirty-two percent say it will “change society for the worse.”

“Maryland, along with three other states, will get to decide this November whether to recognize same-sex unions. While the majority of Maryland citizens appear to support gay marriage, it is important to remember that every time the issue has been on a state ballot, voters have come out against same-sex marriage,” said Kromer.

Pit Bull Court Ruling

Fifty-two percent of residents disagree with the recent court ruling that declared pit bulls and pit bull mixes are “inherently dangerous” dogs, while 42 percent agree. Forty percent of Marylanders indicate they own a dog, while 60 percent do not.

Results of the Goucher Poll indicate differences among owners and non-owners on the inherently dangerous nature of pit bulls and pit bull mixes:

  • Residents who own a dog: 62 percent disagree with the ruling, 36 percent agree
  • Residents who do not own a dog: 46 percent disagree with the ruling, 47 percent agree

“This will be an issue to watch in the upcoming state legislative session. This court decision has implications, not just for dog owners and advocates, but for renters, landlords, and property managers alike,” said Kromer. “What is most interesting is how much dog ownership shapes public opinion on this issue.”

Immigration

Fifty-seven percent of Marylanders support and 39 percent oppose allowing undocumented immigrants the ability to pay in-state or in-county tuition at Maryland public colleges and universities, according to poll findings.

Marylanders were asked about the recent federal policy, which allowed young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children the ability to obtain work permits and defer deportation. Seventy-one percent of residents support this policy, while 24 percent oppose it.

Residents were also asked about their general views toward undocumented immigrants working in the United States:

  • 63 percent: Undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in their jobs and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship.
  • 16 percent: Undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in their jobs only as temporary guest workers, but not to apply for U.S. citizenship.
  • 17 percent: Undocumented immigrants should be required to leave their jobs and leave the United States.

“Maryland residents appear to lean toward immigration policies that favor a pathway to citizenship, rather than policies with a focus on deportation,” said Kromer. “Marylanders support polices that help younger undocumented immigrants, particularly those who were brought here as children. It will be interesting to see if this general sentiment is reflected in the passage of the Maryland DREAM Act this November.”

About the Goucher Poll

The Goucher Poll is conducted under the auspices of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center, which is housed in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Goucher College. Directed by Mileah Kromer, Ph.D., the Goucher Poll conducts surveys on public policy, economic, and social issues in Maryland.

Goucher College supports the Goucher Poll as part of its mission to instill in its students a sense of community where discourse is valued and practiced. The Goucher Poll is fully funded by the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center endowment and does not take additional funding from outside sources.

The Goucher Poll seeks to improve public discourse in the state by providing neutral and nonbiased information on citizen perceptions and opinions. The data collected by the Goucher Poll is used to support faculty and student research.

Survey Methodology

To ensure all Maryland citizens are represented, the Goucher Poll is conducted using random digit dialing (RDD) of a stratified random sample using landline and cellular telephone numbers. The sample of telephone numbers for the survey is obtained from Survey Sampling International, LLC (http://www.surveysampling.com/).

The survey was conducted Sunday, October 21, through Thursday, October 25, 2012. During this time, interviews were conducted from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday and from 5 to 9 p.m. on Monday through Thursday. The Goucher Poll uses Voxco Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) software to administer its surveys. Interviews are conducted by a staff of professionally trained, paid student interviewers.

Interviewers attempted to reach respondents with working phone numbers a maximum of five times. Only Maryland adults—residents aged 18 years or older—were eligible to participate. Interviews were not conducted with adults who were reached at business or work numbers. For each landline number reached, one adult from that household was selected on the basis of being the oldest or youngest adult in that residence. Thirty-five percent of the interviews were conducted on a cell phone, and 65 percent were conducted on a landline.

Interviews for this survey were completed with 667 Maryland citizens. For a sample size of 667 there is a 95 percent probability that the survey results have a plus or minus 3.79 percent margin of error from the actual population distribution for any given survey question. Margin of errors are higher for subsamples.

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